“Free from” ranges see 36% boost as inflation hits grocers

Inflation has continued to push up prices in the grocery sector as sales of gluten free items skyrockets by over a half.

New figures from Kantar Worldpanel have revealed that in the 12 weeks to March 26, supermarket sales increased by 1.4 per cent, despite inflation rising 2.3 per cent year-on-year and costing the average household an extra £23.31.

Inflation has forced shoppers to seek cheaper options as grocers put less emphasis on promotional activity, which is down 5.5 per cent on last year.

Shoppers instead flocked to grocers’ own-branded items, with sales up five per cent during the past 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, “free from” products, including gluten-free and dairy-free products, have seen a 36 per cent boost in sales with 54 per cent of the population stating they had purchased something from the range in the same period.

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Aldi and Lidl both continued to grow their market shares to new levels with a current combined share of 11.7 per cent.

Both retailers grew by 14.3 per cent and 15 per cent respectively attracting an additional 1.1 million shoppers between them.

Frozen food specialist Iceland continued to report growth as its fresh and chilled lines boosted sales by 9.8 per cent compared to last year. Moving beyond its traditional frozen food focus has proven effective as its fresh ranges now account for over a quarter of its sales.

Co-op also enjoyed continuing growth, posting its 23rd consecutive quarter of rising sales, up 0.8 per cent year-on-year.

This was overshadowed by upmarket grocer Waitrose‘s 0.3 per cent growth.

“Slowing growth rates because of the late Easter meant that Morrisons was the only one of the big four to grow sales over the period: up 0.3 per cent during the past 12 weeks,” Kantar Worldpanel head of retail insight Fraser McKevitt said.

“However, strong performances in produce and chilled convenience weren‘t enough to stop Morrisons‘ market share slipping by 0.1 percentage points to 10.4 per cent.

“Sales at Tesco were down 0.4 per cent overall, although growth in its own-label Farm Brands remains impressive one year after launch: 64 per cent of Tesco shoppers made a purchase from the line during the past 12 weeks.

“Despite success in this area, Tesco‘s market share fell by 0.5 percentage points to 27.6 per cent. At Asda sales fell by 1.8 per cent, while Sainsbury‘s declined by 0.7 per cent.”

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