Q1-Q2/2024: Cheese Strikes Back on the Easter table, Early April Heat Boosts Ice Creams Sales

Circana released a special research report for Cibus and Tuttofood, highlighting sales and prices of food products in large-scale distribution (focusing on Hypermarkets, Supermarkets, Self-service, Traditional Stores, and Discounts).


In 2024, Easter fell on March 31st (compared to April 9th in 2023). For this reason, comparing 2023 and 2024’s Food & Beverage sales figures turns extremely difficult, especially for certain categories. In any case, in March 2024 classic Easter seasonal products (from chocolate eggs to Easter cakes) were worth a total of €519 million in the Italian market, followed by grocery items, which recorded sales of €2,924 million.


Cheese Strikes Back on the Easter table

Along with baked goods and cereals, whose sales in March 2024 reached €387 million, cheeses were also chosen by many Italians for their holiday table, totaling €363 million. The sector, which effectively represents better than others the national heritage and the specific traditions of the Italian regions, had experienced a similar sales trend during the Christmas period, due to the fair average costs of items in this category. On the occasion of Easter holidays too, Italians showed a clear preference for cheese as an important asset of their holiday meal and, generally speaking, as a cliché of any festive occasion. We already underlined the very different dates on which Easter was celebrated compared to 2023, but it is undeniable that the seasonal products have been still dealing with some slight difficulties, continuing a macro trend that has been evident in the latest two years.

Early April Heat Boosts Ice Cream Sales and Changes Shopping Habits

With Easter falling at the very end of March, in April 2024, shopping carts significantly lightened (due to the absence of seasonal products) and modified greatly, both in variety and quantity. Circana’s data indicate a 6.9% drop in packaged food sales in April. With seasonal products totally disappearing from shelves, there was also a decrease in the demand for fresh condiments (-23.3%) and grocery items (-12.3%). Overall, prices fell by 3.6%.

The strange case of semolina pasta deserves some more attention: in fact, this category suffered an early slowdown, which had not occurred before summer in previous years. By the way, this topic was also addressed during the latest edition of Cibus (Parma, May 7th-10th): during a workshop, pasta producers and Large-Scale Retail operators debated and showed divergent opinions regarding volumes, margins, and the hot topic of “fair pricing.” However, it will be necessary to wait for the sales performance in the coming months to understand the developments of this sector.

In the meanwhile, an interesting behavior in the value sales of ice cream is worth noting, with a result at checkouts exceeding 8% more than in 2023; yogurt and similar products also performed very well (+6.8%). One of the main reasons for these increases can be attributed to the record heatwave: infact, according to the CNR (Italian National Research Council), April 2024 is the ninth hottest April since 1800.

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