Can brands challenge the dominance of private label in meat retail?
At a total meat, fish and poultry (MFP) level, brands account for 16% of volume sales. While this share has not changed much over the past 10 years, this year there has been a decline in branded MFP of around 3% year-on-year.
However, pork is bucking this trend, albeit from a very low base. Branded MFP is one of the lesser developed grocery categories; at a total grocery level, brands actually account for 41.3% volume share.
For total MFP, the branded market is dominated by frozen products; highlighted by the fact Birds Eye is the number one player. Within fresh red meat, brands are being bought by an increasing number of GB households, though the figure still remains below 7%. This is compared to private label, which is purchased by 87% with just under 10% of households not buying fresh red meat at all.
Fresh brands within MFP can help drive sales without cannibalising private label. Brands often offer more innovative approaches and can focus on provenance and quality more than most private label ranges. Brands can also provide targeted marketing with clear messages, giving consumers inspiration. Branded MFP shoppers are more engaged with the overall category, having bigger baskets and buying more often, even when shopping within the private label category. However, brands within the MFP category can be challenged by retailers replicating their flavours or concepts.
Overall, the importance of brands within MFP has not changed much in recent years and, within red meat, there is no real evidence to suggest that anything is likely to change in the near future. This is particularly the case within primary red meat, where it is hard for brands to get any real point of difference over private label.
According to IGD, quality has more influence on red meat purchase decisions than the average grocery category and, while this would appear to be fertile ground for brands, the quality offering within private label has improved in recent years. Provenance of the meat likely offers a greater opportunity within primary red meat, giving shoppers a reason to spend more. A recent trend by some retailers has been to introduce ranges similar to brands, aimed more at addressing the switching to the Hard Discounters like Aldi and Lidl.
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Sukhvinder Gill, Consumer Insight Manager
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