SymphonyIRI Group reports 12 month analysis of FMCG trends

24 September 2012 – Bracknell, UK – The UK consumer is spending more money on the nation’s favourite comfort and convenience foods despite the ongoing increase in prices, reveals the recently published Snapshot Report, from SymphonyIRI Group, an industry leader in FMCG market measurement.

The findings of the report highlight that convenience, innovation, snacking, new tastes and health are amongst the main drivers of growth where it’s occurring. For example, ready meals grew by almost 11 percent in volume over the past year, an extra £200 million spent on convenience via these products alone. Convenience and comfort come hand in hand, as the report puts Britain’s favourite meals such as Cottage Pie, Mashed Potato, Cumberland Pie and Shepherds Pie as some of the nation’s top choices by value sales.

Non-alcoholic cold drinks, such as cola, energy drinks and mineral water, have performed well. Sales of alcohol, such as lager and cider, benefitted from the Royal Wedding and the Diamond Jubilee. Unfortunately, these two national events did not lead to the expected surge in sales of party food as this sector did not show an increase but remained flat in comparison with last year. This may have been due to poor weather conditions.

Innovation and changing tastes have driven growth. New products such as Belvita, Maggi So Juicy, Colman’s Season & Shake, Monster Energy Drink, Lynx Attract for Her, Cadburys Twirl Bites and Regaine, have all contributed. As the UK consumers’ tastes change, there has been an increase in bread foods, such as bagels (up by 16 percent); wraps (up by 10 percent) and brioche rolls (up by 24 percent), plus a rise in the use of almonds, walnuts and pistachios (9 percent increase) possibly caused by the increased interest in baking, spurred by the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

As we celebrated a period of athleticism in the UK, it seems that the nation turned to healthier food options. Unflavoured mineral water sales increased by 6 percent (£22 million) and flavoured waters by 7 percent (£14 million) – a total of 65 million litres. Hearty, healthy breakfasts such as porridge also increased during this period by 4 percent. The report also reveals a strong move to a healthier lifestyle as smokers bought 8 percent more smoking cessation products worth £31 million.

Aside from food and drinks, one of the best performing sectors has been pet food, with growth coming from the dry sector (at 4.4 percent). Ladies toiletries have increased, as the report shows a rise in female toiletry gift sets being purchased, costing £17 million, 9 percent more nail make-up at £9 million and 6 percent more lip make-up at £5 million. Dry shampoo is making an impact gaining £6 million, up 19 percent in volume terms and there has been an emergence of a new sector in hair colour remover.

Although there has been a value growth for two thirds of the categories, half of this has been driven up purely by price increases. Two thirds of the 300 categories measured are showing annual volume decline at present.

Prices for packaged groceries have been rising in excess of 3 percent since August 2011, reaching a peak of 5 percent in March 2012 and since falling to 3 percent in July 2012. Packaged grocery prices are 8 percent higher than they were in January 2010.

Tim Eales, Strategic Insight Director at SymphonyIRI Group says, “Every day that price inflation remains above wage inflation means that somebody, somewhere, is worse off. This is causing packaged grocery to shrink slowly by volume. However, we are spending more money as we are forced to buy at higher prices. Despite this, opportunities still exist to cash in on changing tastes and the hunger for interesting new ideas.’

SymphonyIRI Group’s Snapshot report contains data extracted from 300 reported categories across all SIG outlets over the period 52 w/e 7th July 2012 versus 52 w/e 9th July 2011. Categories include packaged foods, alcohol (excl wine), non-alcoholic drinks, household products, personal care (incl cosmetics), health care, pet food and confectionary.

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