NEWS3 January 2024

Cost-of-living reshaping consumer preferences

Cost of Living FMCG News UK

UK – Shopping habits across the UK are changing significantly as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, according to data from NIQ for The Grocer.

Shopping trolley

Own label sales increased 12.8%, NIQ said, with shoppers seeking value in response to high rates of inflation.

The cost-of-living crisis was also having a big impact on some categories, with data showing that meat-free products were in decline, with a £34.8m fall in sales, with other poor performers including alcoholic drinks.

NIQ said that spirits (-£181.2m), champagne (-£29.7m), sparkling wine (-£16.6m) and cider (-£4.4m) are all in decline as categories, with beer, wine and spirits brands accounting for half of the top 10 fastest falling products overall.

Volume declines were recorded across several fast-moving consumer goods categories in the report, but inflation offset falls in the number of sales in many cases, such as with commodity items including fresh poultry (+£273.1m), beef (+£141.6m), milk (+£497.6m) and cheese (+£423m), which saw some of the highest sales growth but falls in sales volumes.

Bagged snacks (+£523.7m), chocolate (+£410.3m) and sweet biscuits (+£307.1m) also all saw sales volumes drop but grew sales, according to NIQ.

The fastest-growing category was vapes and Lost Mary vapes was the fastest-growing product overall, with sports and energy drinks also performing well.

Rachel White, managing director UK and Ireland at NIQ, said: “The cost-of-living crisis continues to impact UK consumers and our data shows that this has had an effect on how they shop for groceries and what they choose to put in their baskets.

“There has been a real emphasis, despite inflation, on stripping it back to traditional items, such as fresh meat and dairy products, and a move away from trying more expensive meal solutions.”

Adam Leyland, editor-in-chief at The Grocer, said: “As the Top Products Survey shows, supermarkets are in a tug of war with brands. And with own-label product volumes soaring across numerous categories, and the discounters in strong growth, the back-to-basics approach is having a profound impact on volume sales for many leading brands.

“But there’s growing evidence that brands are tugging the argument in the other direction through increased promotions as inflation starts to ease, and that should mean lower prices for consumers and better innovation over the next year.”