A supermarket in a large city is a reflection of the people who live there. In Europe, according to industry experts, traditional grocery shopping is shifting, thanks to the increase in number of elderly and singles. Only in every second household food is prepared daily. Finished salads, sandwiches and sushi are becoming increasingly important for grocers, because customers have less time to cook. When they want to have a fast snack between most chose healthy finished salads and other fresh snacks, thanks to the nutritional awareness among shoppers.
Fully prepared vegetables, sliced and washed fruit, mouth-watering salads, sandwiches, wraps, sushi, freshly-pizzas, milkshakes and smoothies are increasingly becoming more and more popular in the branches of supermarket chains. It is true that convenience products and durable food have been part of the usual picture in the supermarkets for decades. The new ultra-fresh range, on the other hand, includes ready-to-eat goods, many of which must be cooled in a temperature range of between two and seven degrees.
“The area of fresh convenience products is one of the fastest growing food retail segments in Europe,” says industry expert Bianca Casertano from the retail analysis group Planet Retail. According to a survey conducted by HSH Nordbank among top decision-makers in the food industry, the ultra-fresh range, currently occupying an average of twelve percent of retail space, will grow to 21 percent of the space by the end of next year. The losers are the frozen convenience products, whose share of the market will drop from an average of 36 percent to only 28 percent. The survey also shows that, according to the estimates of the companies, consumers are willing to spend up to 20 per cent more money on the ultra-fresh products than for non-ready-to-eat goods.
Above all in the supermarkets of larger British and Dutch cities, the ultra-fresh products are much more widespread. There they take not only individual shelves, but whole departments. Elsewhere in Europe there are also offers that would be difficult to imagine in Germany – for example red and white wine, portioned in plastic drink glasses, which are sealed like a yogurt beaker with an aluminum foil.
But there were start-up difficulties: “Compared to our western neighbors, the launch of ultra-fresh convenience products in Germany was rather sluggish,” says Tim Muhle, Head of Nutrition at HSH Nordbank. This should also be related to the price. Trade analyst Bianca Casertano explains the background: “There is hardly a country in Europe where the food trade produces as little profit margins as in Germany.” The customers here have been accustomed to spend relatively little money on the purchase of food – “the more they are processed, the more expensive they are.”
The lead in other countries is very large in individual product groups: in the UK, consumer spending on ready – made vegetables is almost eight times higher in Germany, in the Netherlands it is four times, and in France almost three times.