Own brands dominate prepared fruit and vegetable sales

Distributors’ brands take over pre-prepared and pre-cooked products in the food channel.

Alimarket Mass Market

Three in every four pre-prepared and pre-cooked products sold in the mass consumption food channel are distributor’s brands (MDD), according to figures released by consultancy firm IRI, which analysed marketing of this type of products in the mobile year ending in February in these channels, supermarkets and hypermarkets. In terms of value, MDD accounts for almost two thirds of income generated by these products, since distributor branded products are slightly cheaper than their branded equivalents. The YOY comparison shows a slight fall for MDD, both in terms of volume, which fell slightly from 76.26% to 75.80%, and value, from 68.54% to 67.37%, but this minor change does not represent a real trend.

alimarket

The specialised retail channel is not included in this study and nor are online sales, where all products are sold with manufacturers’ own brands, where the fresh fruit and vegetable sector is nevertheless strongest.

Of more than 22,000 organised points of sale included by Alimarket in the mass market sector, there are five chains responsible for almost 50% of the 13 million square metres exploited: Mercadona and the Dia, Eroski, Carrefour and Lidl groups, all chains with a strong presence of pre-prepared and pre-cooked products on their shelves.

Salad, the queen of the prepared vegetables

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, salad is the most popular ready product available. This has been influenced by the large variety of available references, which are continually changing and adding new ingredients (quinoa, sprouts, sorrel, and so on), adapting to the demands of consumers who enjoy new products and are interested in healthy eating. And it is here, in pre-prepared salads, which is the segment with the highest presence of MDD, accounting for eight out of ten of these products sold in Spain, maintaining the distribution anagram. In terms of value, they account for seven out of ten euros spent by consumers on pre-prepared salads.

The popularity of this product is supported by the fact that seven of the top ten pre-prepared product operators are placing a great emphasis on salads. They are led by two groups, Florette, which as well as having its own brand, also supplies distribution groups like El Corte Inglés, Auchan, Carrefour, Eroski, Consum, Dia and Lidl, and Citrus, which supplies Mercadona.

Accounting for around 38% of all pre-prepared and pre-cooked products overall, the pre-prepared fruit and vegetable sector has evolved most in this market, with growth far in excess of 15% in volume. This success is largely down to the pre-chopped and ready to cook and eat sub-segment, a product designed to make dishes, whether cooked and fried, easier to prepare.

In contrast to trends seen in other countries, pre-cut fruit continues to lag behind. In recent years, these products looked like a great bet for the future, but paying for high handling costs has not appealed to consumers who are used to having a wide choice of fruit they can buy at relatively low prices in countries where the product is readily available, and they have not been persuaded to buy pieces of pre-prepared fruit as if they were luxury items. In any case, convenience and the possibility of adding a large selection of varieties in one product for consumption outside the home still make the prepared fruit market a good opportunity for the future. That is the understanding of a sector which is timidly gathering at the starting line preparing for the time when consumers eventually decide to fire the starters pistol. Arc Eurobanan is one group specialising in this type of products. There is also an extensive variety of MDD in this sub-segment, basically in peeled pineapples.

The only segment where the branded sector dominates the MDD is in pre-cooked products, where it accounts for more than 10% of all pre-prepared and pre-cooked products in distribution. This segment, clearly dominated by Huercasa 5 Gama, which sells twice the volume of the seven companies following it in the ranking of pre-prepared fruit and vegetable companies of this type, includes a plethora of products barely defined by the sector itself, which, according to sources, could include soups and all types of ready meals that may contain varying amounts of other ingredients.

Finally, and hardly worth mentioning with its downward trend is dried vegetables, where seven of every ten products are marketed with MDD, over a third of which are dried onions, accounting for €4.6 of every €10 spent by consumers on dried vegetables.