INDEPENDENT butchers continued to regain some ground against their major supermarket competitors in the latest national monthly retail survey published by Nielsen Homescan*.
For the third consecutive month, butchers have taken beef retail trade away from supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles.
This more recent trend follows a tough 18 months for independents, who have lost share to the big two, in part due to supermarket price wars involving popular beef cuts, but also to the growing number of major supermarket outlets being built Australia.
For the rolling quarter ended November 29, butchers accounted for 21 percent of national retail beef sales, their best result since the middle of last year. Butchers have picked up almost 1pc of all beef sales since August.
While encouraging, butchers still have a way to go to peg back ground lost to Coles and Woolies. This time a year ago, butchers still held 22.2pc of all beef sales, representing a slide of 1.2pc since.
Biggest domestic retailer, Woolworths registered a beef share of 33.2pc for the November 29 rolling quarter, down 0.3pc on the previous month and a gradual slide of 1.2pc since the recent high-point in July last year. It’s Woolworths worst result in exactly 12 months, according to the Nielsen data. Since January last year, Woolworths for the first time controlled more than one-third of Australian retail beef turnover, by value, but has again slipped below that pie-share in the latest result.
Second largest retail Coles also eased for the month, accounting for 24.9pc of retail beef market share at the end of November. That’s down 0.5pc on the previous month, but comes on top of a four-month steady improvement during the latter stages of 2014.
Among smaller beef retailers monitored in the report, the independently-owned IGA supermarket group rose a little to 8.6pc share, but still well short of the figures closer to 10pc seen a year or more ago.
Another emerging supermarket player, Aldi, continues its strong growth run, accounting for 8.2pc of national retail beef sales in the latest Nielsen survey. This time a year ago the figure was just 6.8pc. Aldi continues to open more outlets, and has steadily increased its position for each of the past 11 months, largely at the expense of IGA, it appears.
Aldi recently announced it will build as many as 130 stores in SA and WA, together with two new distribution centres, starting in 2016. After entering the Australian market in 2000, Aldi now has an estimated 10pc of the overall grocery market (obviously a little less than that for beef), with more than 350 stores across New South Wales, ACT, Queensland and Victoria generating annual sales around $5.3 billion.
Aldi could almost double sales in the next five years, analysts suggest. If that proves accurate, it could easily represent a beef share of +16pc, most likely to come at the expense of other supermarket groups.
The ‘other’ retail category reported in the Nielsen survey (mostly independent supermarkets, but including players like Costco) remained unchanged for the fourth consecutive month at 4.1pc share in the latest survey.
Overall fresh meat sales value up
For the latest rolling quarter ended November 29, the Australian fresh meat category (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, seafood) recorded a large increase in value of 6.4pc compared to the same period last year. That was driven by an increase in spend per buyer (+5.0pc) and also an increase in average spend per occasion (+5.1pc), year-on-year.
Beef’s value share of that overall expenditure on fresh meat protein increased by 6.7pc compared with last year, driven mainly by increased spend per buyer (+7pc), and also spend per visit (+6.6pc).
Lamb’s value share over the latest rolling quarter increased marginally (+0.16pc) driven mostly by increased spend per buyer (+7.5pc). Chicken’s value share was up slightly (+0.13pc) when compared with the same quarter last year, while pork’s share grew over the quarter by 0.43pc, influenced by spend per buyer (up 8.4pc) and spend per visit (+6.5pc).
It’s important to note, however, that the prices reported by Nielsen are measured as the average $/kg value of the items in the surveyed consumers’ shopping baskets. It does not attempt to represent the overall average value of beef and other proteins being sold in the retail marketplace.
Under these terms, beef recorded an average price of $10.36/kg for the November 29 rolling quarter (+73c/kg on this time last year); chicken $8.26c/kg (+4c/kg); lamb $11.25c/kg (+16c); and pork $11.29/kg (up 66c/kg on a year ago).
Retail fresh meat category share
In other information of value in the latest Nielsen survey, beef easily retained the highest percentage share of all meat sales against competing proteins, responsible for 36.5pc by value of all meat sales, down 0.7pc on a month earlier, but still 2pc better than this time last year. Extreme high rates of cattle slaughter due to drought have helped drive that high consumption trend.
Chicken filled second place on 26.8pc of total meat protein sales, easing 0.3pc on the previous month, and the lowest figure in 11 months. Chicken consumption appears to be the most inelastic of all major proteins recorded.
Pork was fourth with 10.8pc of total meat protein sales, much the same as the previous four months.
* What is Nielsen Homescan?
- A consumer panel of 10,000 households
- Demographically and geographically representative of all Australian households
- Electronically record their household purchases of all grocery foods (fresh and packaged)
How are panel participants recruited?
- Households are recruited on-line via a random sampling method
- The Homescan panel is stratified by life stage, region and household size
- Households are screened to assess suitability and to ensure they do not work in marketing, market research or FMCG.