Woolies share of retail beef sales continues to grow

Jon Condon, 03/09/2014

THE difference between retail beef market share held by Woolworths and Coles continues to widen, with Woolies extending a year-long sequence of improvement, while Coles has fallen to an 18-month low.

meat-retailThe monthly retail market share survey conducted on industry’s behalf by Nielsen Homescan* indicates that for the latest rolling quarter ended July 12, Woolworths hit an all-time record national retail beef market value share of 34.4 percent.

That’s up from the company’s previous high point of 34.2pc recorded a month earlier. It means that Woolworths has picked up an additional 2.6pc of all retail beef sales across Australia over the past 12 months. That’s a significant outcome in a retail market where movement is often measured in fractions of a percent.

With the exception of May, where it recorded a minor downwards adjustment in value share, Woolworths has recorded ten consecutive months of share growth. This time a year ago, the company sat at 31.8pc of total beef sales across Australia, according to Nielsen data.

Since January, Woolworths has for the first time controlled more than one third of Australian retail beef turnover, by value.

Part of the explanation for the result came in last Friday’s financial year report to the market, which stated that the nation’s largest supermarket chain now operates 931 stores across Australia – up 34 stores on this time a year earlier.

That suggests it is both organic beef sales growth in existing outlets, plus the growing number of new stores, which is driving Woolies retail value share performance. Two years ago, Woolworths’ retail beef share was 3.3pc less than what it is today, at 30.9pc.

Biggest rival Coles continued a long, gradual decline in retail beef share, according to the Nielsen data. It suggested Coles held 24.1pc of national retail beef market share for the rolling quarter ended July 12, it’s worst result since January 2013.

Coles’ recent high point of 24.8pc came in January and February this year, but has since gradually lost 0.7pc share, mostly to biggest rival Woolworths.

In July last year, Coles was within 6.9pc of overall retail share held by Woolworths, but that gap has now widened to 10.3pc.

Worth considering, though, is the less aggressive growth in store numbers by Coles than Woolworths over the past year, which inevitably affects market share.

In its recent financial year results, Coles said it had opened 19 new supermarkets in 2013-14 – 15 less than Woolworths – taking total store numbers to 745.

Independents lose ground

Independent butchers, also, appear to have lost further ground to Woolworths.

Independents in the latest Nielsen survey held 21.1pc retail share, on a rolling quarter basis. That’s back another 0.1pc on the previous monthly cycle, and represents the worst result in at least two years, and possibly since the data was recorded. Butchers have now lost 3.4pc of retail value share, mostly to the two large national supermarkets, in the past 18 months.

Smaller supermarkets steady

Smaller national supermarket chains recorded in the Nielsen monthly survey were largely unchanged in the July rolling quarter.

The independently-owned IGA group logged a 9pc share, back 0.1pc on June figures, but still well behind a strong period towards the end of last year when figures peaked at 10.3pc, after heavy IGA promotion.

Another mid-tier supermarket retailer, Aldi, continues a strong growth performance recording a 7.5pc market share in the June rolling quarter, a gradual 0.8pc rise since December, while the ‘other’ supermarkets grouping, including the likes of Costco, independent supermarkets and others, lifted 0.2pc to 3.9pc.

Readers should note that the Nielsen figures published here are based on rolling quarterly figures, not single monthly registrations, because they are considered to be a more accurate reflection of longer-term trends.

Overall fresh meat sales value up

For the latest rolling quarter ended July 12, the Australian fresh meat category (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, seafood) recorded an increase in value of 3.9pc, compared to the same period last year. This was driven by an increase in spend per visit (+3pc), and also an increase in average spend per buyer (+2.5pc) year-on-year.

Beef’s value share of that overall expenditure on fresh meat protein declined 0.45pc compared with last year, due to buyers purchasing lower volumes (down 1.6pc). Average beef prices over the quarter rose 3.8pc year-on-year.

Lamb’s value share over the July quarter decreased by 0.56pc year-on-year, again due to a decline in average volume per buyer (-5.8pc). This trend was influenced by a 10.6pc year-on-year rise in price over the period.

Chicken’s value share was down 0.13pc when compared with the same quarter last year, while pork’s share grew over the quarter by 0.77pc, influenced by buyer’s increasing spend per visit (up 11.5pc).

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 $10.12/kg for the July 12 rolling quarter (+37c/kg on this time last year); chicken $8.02c/kg (-11c/kg); lamb $12.35c/kg (+$1.18c); and pork $10.77/kg (up 42c 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 37.5pc by value of all meat sales, up 0.4pc on a month earlier, but down 0.5pc on this time last year, when prices were lower due to oversupply of slaughter cattle.

Chicken filled second place on 27pc of total meat protein sales, up marginally on the previous month but down slightly on this time a year ago. Lamb was third with 12.9pc, down 0.6pc on a year ago due to higher prices, while pork was fourth with 10.9pc of total meat protein sales, about 0.8pc better year-on-year.


* 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.



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