SymphonyIRI Group identifies Fizzy Drinks and Chocolate as Favourites with UK Shoppers, worth an additional £196 million in 2011 compared to 2010

Bracknell, U.K, 6 February 2012 – The fastest growing grocery categories in the UK in 2011 have been revealed by SymphonyIRI Group, the leading FMCG market measurement and insight consultancy. Canned Cola is at the top of the list, followed behind by canned sport drinks and various chocolate confectionery sectors, which between them are worth an additional £196 million in 2011 compared to 2010.

47 categories that have shown the greatest increase in value, as well as showing significant volume growth year on year, have been identified and together they represent an additional one billion pounds being spent on groceries in the UK in 2011, compared to 2010.

UK consumers have spent an additional £76 million pounds on canned Cola in 2011, which is equal to a 13 per cent increase in volume being purchased since 2010.  This is despite the cost of canned Cola rising by 4.1 per cent during the same period.  Following closely behind is the canned sport drinks category, which separated consumers’ from an extra £67.3 million of their hard-earned pounds last year.  This category grew by over 28 per cent in volume in 2011, as canned drinks became more popular, but prices went down by 7.5 per cent compared to 2010.

Many chocolate confectionery sectors, including items such as boxed chocolates from luxury chocolatiers, grew with an additional £52.7 million being spent on the sweet treats in 2011.  This is an increase of 113 per cent in volume sales compared to 2010.  This high level of growth is a result of a huge price reduction.  Of all of the categories listed, this category showed the greatest reduction in prices paid and this is mainly due to high levels of promotion within the industry.

Tim Eales, Director of Strategic Insight, SymphonyIRI Group commented, “Despite the economic downturn and a real drive by consumers to find more value in their weekly grocery shops, some ‘treat’ products like canned drinks and chocolate fail to make the cut. It seems there is no alternative to the items that can satisfy the British sweet tooth.”

Additionally, SymphonyIRI Group’s research shows that consumers additionally spent almost £117 million on a variety of ready meals; £27 million on fruit bags (bags of mixed sliced fruit) and over £11 million on instant hot cereal. Eales added, “This demonstrates the overwhelming need for convenience in our lives, often at the expense of paying a higher price when the alternative could be much cheaper.

“However, there is certainly evidence of an economic downturn as consumers look for other ways to save.  In 2011, consumers spent an additional £31.6 million on hair colourant and hair dye products to carry out at home instead of taking frequent trips to the hairdressers.  More than £20 million extra was spent on cooking / baking margarine and dry cake mix.  This reflects the growing trend to bake at home, thus saving money.  An additional £37 million pounds was spent on mild and mature cheddar in 2011, indicating that consumers recognise cheese as a cheaper source of protein compared to expensive meats and fish,” he explained.

“Consumers will have been changed by the experience of the recession. We have seen a slow but relentless reduction of disposable income against a backdrop of higher prices in almost every area of consumer expenditure. Under those conditions a lot of people have to change how they spend and save and even those that are technically immune (because they can afford the extra) are caught up in the reaction.  Shoppers are becoming more frugal, but convenience is still a factor, and our research shows that during these difficult times, consumers continue to treat themselves with fizzy drinks and chocolate,’” Eales concluded.

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