The grocery store, as confirmed month after month by IRI data, is one of the historical best-sellers in structured retailing.
The grocery store, as confirmed month after month by IRI data, is one of the historical best-sellers in structured retailing. In the first quarter of 2020, with 5,433 million euro in sales value, grocery stores accounted for almost half of the 12,511 million euro worth of total packaged goods sold, with a higher growth rate of 10.6% compared with an average of 9.6%. In March, the jump rose as high as 20.5%, more than a fifth higher than the same month in 2019, with sales of 2,282 million euro.
A highly diversified sector by nature in which the best way to size up the real situation is to listen to the manufacturers. Acetaia Leonardi in Formigine (Modena) has been making balsamic vinegar and other gastronomic specialities for four generations. Owner, Francesco Leonardi, tells us: “Due to the closure of restaurants and tourism, we are experiencing a downturn in the domestic market, while exports are still doing well. We have had to postpone the launches we had planned but we are constantly working on new gourmet products. This emergency highlights the importance of sustainable behaviour even more, directing our choices towards natural products and recyclable packaging. We are organic producers and we intend to strengthen this trend, which consumers respond to very well”.
Sabrina Mancini, Marketing Manager at Madama Oliva, makes a similar comment: “We are continuing to develop projects that we started working on months ago, which involve the launch of new ranges or products. We believe that sustainable packaging will be extremely important in the near future. We are studying new packaging that will minimise the impact on the environment as much as possible, guaranteeing the same quality standards. We think that consumers will return to paying attention to their lifestyle choices after the emergency and we are working on new recipes to meet their needs".
Quality, but also service content
Bruno Urbani, Chairman of Urbani Tartufi, on the other hand, looks at the persistent need to “stock up” and the success of e-commerce: “Especially for comfort food and non-essential items, but for other products too, consumers are increasingly considering the e-commerce channel as a point of reference. At a time when people are going back to “DIY” and turning to packaged product also in search of luxury, our approach is to offer service content. We are also going to be selling fresh truffles in our e-shop, so that 'purists' can enjoy freshly collected truffles, just like in a restaurant”.
Similar products such as cheeses reveal similar dynamics too, as Andrea Righini, Director of the Consorzio Tutela Pecorino Toscano DOP, points out: “Consumers have switched decisively from the delicatessen counter, where most sales of Pecorino Toscano took place, to pre-packaged products. In this sense, no new formats are planned, but we are considering solutions for the placement of larger quantities of mature product as opposed to the fresh version. We think that the trend towards the consumption of pre-packaged products, if confirmed, should lead to the mass use of compostable packaging to satisfy the demand for a reduction in environmental impact”.
The Covid emergency has highlighted the importance of the quality-sustainability-service content triad in the Grocery sector, perhaps more than in others, and it is probably destined to mark developments in the immediate future.