Independent butchers lose retail share, Woolies and Coles lift

Jon Condon, 30/04/2013

Major supermarket groups Woolworths and Coles improved their retail beef market share during March, at the expense of independent butchers, according to latest Nielsen Homescan research.

For the month ending March 23, butchers lost 0.6pc retail beef market share, compared to a month earlier, recording a 23.4 percent share.

It was the worst result for butchers in the past two years, and possibly reflects the ongoing retail price wars among the majors, including beef. Independents have now lost 1.4pc market share for beef since December, mostly to the large supermarkets, but also to the improving IGA independently owned supermarket group.

Significantly, the Coles supermarket group has now gone past independent butchers in terms of beef share, after a two year period where it has gradually narrowed the gap.

Coles’ retail share for March reached 24.4pc – its highest point in 20 months, and a 1.5pc improvement over the past three months.

Largest retailer Woolworths has also grown its share of the retail beef trade, accounting for 32.2pc of all beef sales for the rolling quarter ending March 23 – a 1pc rise since December.

Among other retail groups monitored in the Nielsen Homescan data, the IGA group was the best performed, finishing March at 9.4pc share, it’s best result since October 2011, and a full 1pc higher than back in December.

Smaller groups like Aldi (6.9pc in March) and other supermarkets (3.8pc) were little changed from earlier performance.In other metrics monitored in the survey, fresh meat (not just beef, but including chicken, pork, lamb and seafood) increased value by 0.4pc for the quarter ended March23, compared with a year earlier. That was mainly due to an increase in retail prices.

Chicken (0.84pc), lamb (0.32pc) and seafood (0.15pc) experienced the strongest growth in value over the quarter, while beef declined 0.59pc in value compated with this time a year ago.

Value share increases for chicken and seafood appear to have been caused by an increase in price, while lamb (-$1.09) was the only protein where the drop in price was offset by a higher uptake in volume.

Lamb sells best for butchers in Q1

Lamb was the best performing meat for butchers during the opening quarter of 2013, according to MLA’s monthly butcher survey carried out by Millward Brown, just ahead of beef and chicken, and well ahead of pork.

In total, 36pc of the butchers surveyed indicated ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’ sales of lamb in the week up to the survey, with another 25pc reporting ‘good’ sales, compared with 35pc ‘average’ and 45pc ‘good’ for beef, and 35pc ‘average’ and 38pc ‘good’ for chicken.

There was also more variability in sales of lamb across butchers surveyed, with another 20pc reporting just ‘fair’ sales, compared with 14pc for beef and chicken. Overall, pork did not perform as well as the other meats, with 25pc ‘VGE’, 38pc ‘good’ and 24pc ‘fair’.

The performance of lamb in this quarter was notably higher than both July-September and October-December, and followed a different pattern to last year, when the first quarter of 2012 was markedly lower than the last quarter of 2011.

All four categories of meat reported better sales for the start of 2013 than the corresponding period last year, although the reasons given for good sales were consistent from year to year, including product quality and hot weather through the BBQ season.

* Note: Unless otherwise stated, rolling quarterly figures are quoted, instead of monthly figures, because they are regarded by analysts as being a more accurate reflection of longer-term trends.   


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