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Structural drivers of convenience, health and wellness and great food.
The three core consumer trends continue to be convenience, health and wellness, and great value. Consumers demand products and services that deliver quickly and make life easier. In addition they want to be able to make healthier choices whilst at the same time getting great value in the purchases they make.
Health continues to have an impact on key consumer trends in food. 35% of UK consumers are consciously following some form of specialist diet (IGD), and 30% of UK consumers would like to see more plant-based options (IGD).
While the concept of freshness has always been critical for consumers, it is increasingly linked with local produce and sourcing.
Sustainability is also now impacting category demand. 75% of UK consumers have become more aware of the environmental impact of plastic packaging than previously (IGD). 57% of consumers would pay more for products in recyclable packaging (IGD).
Meal times are fragmenting. Our own consumer insight teams track consumer demand and behaviours across various occasions. Our research shows that 35% of all food to go consumer occasions now occur at lunch time.
Furthermore, 35% of such consumer occasions occurring either at breakfast or in the evening (Greencore research), market demands are driving more hot food solutions.
The remaining 30% of food to go consumer occasions occur as snacking (Greencore research), transforming the requirements of our customers.
IGD forecasts that the traditional grocery channel will grow at 1.5% per annum to 2024. The convenience channel will grow at 3.3%, while the discounter and online channels are forecast to grow at much faster rates (6.5% and 8.8% respectively).
Existing grocery players are actively exploring how best to outperform in their own channel while also accessing growth in alternative channels.
Consumers meanwhile are widening their repertoire of outlets from which they shop. The average shopper now uses 9.5 different outlets per month, compared to 7.5 only eighteen months ago (Greencore research).
Within each channel, consumers demand innovative and imaginative formats. Food theatre and the concept of food service in retail are becoming important elements of the overall shopper mission.
Convenience remains a core driver – the number of carry-out meal occasions are growing over twice as fast as that of in-home occasions in home food consumption (Kantar, 2019).
While formats change, more focus will be required to deliver the right range in the right place at the right time – ensuring the three core consumer drivers are met.
As the key players in the market re-evaluate their propositions to meet changing consumer demand, distinctions between what constitutes a supplier, a competitor and a customer are blurring in the convenience food market.
Foodservice specialists and new direct-to-consumer service providers are intensifying the competition for consumers and often for our customers. As they succeed, however, they are also prospective customers in their own right.
There have been significant structural changes amongst Greencore’s competitive set, across both food to go and other chilled convenience areas, leading to fewer and more specialised players in the market.