set of colorful fruits

The organised distribution of fruit and vegetables gains ground in the specialist channel

25 Mar 2019

In Spain, the fruit intake is 1.5 servings per day and the vegetable intake (excluding potatoes) 1.3, based on the ‘Status Report on Fruit and Vegetables: Nutrition and Health in Spain in the 21st Century’, coordinated by the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN in its Spanish initials). These data mean that Spain does not reach the minimum consumption recommended by the scientific and health community, which recommends at least five daily servings. A situation that worsens especially among children and adolescents, who consume the lowest amounts (241 and 220 g/person/day).

This low consumption of fruit and vegetables would be one of the keys as to why the fruit and vegetable sector is losing volume every year, although not value, due to the increase in the average price. In fact, if we take as a reference the ‘Report on food consumption in Spain 2017’ (the most recent year with known data), published by the MAPA, the volume of fruit that year contracted by 3.5% (4.2 Mt), while the value only fell by 0.9% (€6.14 billion), cushioned by the increase in the average price. In fresh vegetables (excluding potatoes), the volume fell by 4.1% (2.2 Mt). In contrast, the value increased by 0.6% (4,400 Mt), supported by the rise in the average price ( 4.9%, to €1.48/kg). Data corroborated by the specialist consultancy in consumer panels, Kantar Worldpanel, which in its study ‘Trends in distribution in 2018’ states that the value of fresh products increased by 2.4%, despite the fact that its volume fell by 1.5% (cumulative until 12 August 2018).

However, the good news is that, according to the same source, in the “dynamic channel” or organised distribution there was an increase of 6.2% in the marketing of fruit and vegetables, as opposed to the 1.6% decrease in the specialist channel. For its part, the aforementioned report of the MAPA also establishes that the only formats that increased their share were e-commerce and the supermarket channel, therefore validating the investments that organised distribution is allocating to these areas. Specifically, the supermarket channel gained 0.4% in fruit and 3.2% in vegetables, achieving shares of 32.1% and 30.6%, respectively. E-commerce combines 0.4% in fruit ( 32.1%) with 0.5% in vegetables ( 21.8%), revealing that the reluctance of the final consumer to purchase fresh products on the Internet is beginning to disappear. The traditional, meanwhile, fell by 8.7% in the first case (33.4%) and 7.2% in the second (30.7%). The MAPA also asserts that the way fruit and vegetables are consumed has changed substantially in recent years, being less and less present in the main meals of the day (lunch and dinner) and gaining ground in other less common ones, such as breakfast or tea.A positive outlookThe combination of both factors (low intake and new times of consumption), provide a very positive outlook for the sector, as long as it is able to offer what the new consumer demands: choice, health, convenience and price, completed with innovative formats and packaging, to the extent that the customer wants to innovate and try new things.

With regard to choice, the new issue for distribution are organic products. Thus, according to the latest report on organic products published by the MAPA, at present the specialist channel accounts for around 42% of this market, with 38% in organised distribution, and the remaining 20% in other segments. However, this source asserts that, in 2020, organised distribution will represent 46%-48% compared to 31%-34% in the specialist. For example, the last companies to incorporate these products have been Supersol Spain, Musgrave Spain (subsidiary in our country of the Irish group of the same name), the Murcian cooperative Upper Group and Majadadis, responsible for the management of an ‘E. Leclerc’ hypermarket in Majadahonda (Madrid). For their part, others such as Eroski, Consum, Carrefour, El Corte Ingles, Auchan, Dinosol Supermercados, Juan Fornés and Lidl Supermercados continued to expand their portfolio and betting on the “democratisation” of this segment.

Apart from organic products, the range is gaining depth with the arrival of tropical fruit, “ready to eat” (cut and peeled) or frozen; sliced or ‘healthy’ vegetables (bimi or kale, for example); as well as numerous examples of 4th and 5th range products (selection of vegetables for preparation of soups and purées, salads with superfoods, etc.). And, all this, with formats adapted to the new sustainable family and packaging models. Finally, alternative services such as freshly-squeezed juice, smoothies or fruit counters are already common in these spheres.

Souce: Alimarket Gran Consumo