The British market is not immune to the crisis. The price competition and the fact that consumers often eat out, waste less food, look for value and convenience, adopt online shopping, are changing the very structure of the market. High-end retailers, Waitrose and Marks &Spencer, have shown good performance. At the other end, discount stores continue to grow to double digits, while the traditional “big four” (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, and Asda) are still competing for the squeezed mid-market segment. At the heart of this – said Giles Fisher, Head of Buying for Meal Solutions at Waitrose – at an average of 32 minutes on meal preparation (compared to 60 minutes in 1980), only 20% of them have dinner together, and the most popular meal is sandwiches, so producers who are able to come up with affordable time-saving solutions will reap the rewards.
ITALIAN PRODUCTS ON A TOP SHELF – In this scenario, what is the value of Italian products in the UK? Sales reached 2,8 billion euro, with a growth of +0,87% and a 6,4% share of all food and drink products sold in the country (according to ITA – Italian Trade Agency based on Istat data). The main development areas are wine, pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, and cured meats. With a turnover of €8,3 billion, a market share up 5,2%, and 392 branches, Waitrose owes its success in the UK to the values that have always inspired: quality, service, and trust. The assortment pays particular attention not only to the British origin, but in general to what can satisfy its consumers’ demands. And “Italian food” undoubtedly meets the retailer’s standards. Shoppers are much more experienced than in the past: they buy in different stores, more frequently, and with reduced shopping costs. In addition, purchases are more planned, as they seek value for money and focus more on reducing waste. As a result, the market growth between now and 2019, according to forecasts, will be attributed to three channels: online shopping, which has grown by 9,2%, convenience stores (+11,6%), and discount stores (+10,6%), while sales will drop in supermarkets and hypermarkets. Waitrose consumers – confirmed Giles Fisher – seek authentic products from the world and the areas of major growth are olive oil, olives & appetizers, and cured meats. The British appreciate Italian products: first of all, food, but also the holidays, culture, and style. The fact that the market will experience a period of deflation may represent a threat to Italian products, which are generally positioned in a premium segment. At the same time, the focus on health could also curb the purchase of certain products such as foods high in fat or salt. However, the image of the healthy Mediterranean diet could benefit several Italian products that are perceived as healthy, for example olive oil.