Woolworths pulls further ahead in retail beef sales

Jon Condon, 06/11/2012


Supermarket group Woolworths has improved its beef sales position relative to both Coles and independent butchers in the latest monthly retail survey produced for Meat & Livestock Australia.

Latest monthly retail survey data compiled by Neilsen Homescan for the period ended September 29 shows Woolworths has further arrested some of the beef market share expansion Coles enjoyed over the previous four or five monthly cycles, during periods of heavy promotion.

Woolworths’ rolling average quarter figure for fresh beef sales during the latest term increased from 30.4 percent of market share to 31pc. That continues a new growth trend in beef sales for Woolworths first identified a month ago, following five months of declines.

Coles’ beef retail value share over the same period softened a little, falling 0.3pc to 26.1pc. Two months ago was the narrowest gap in retail share seen between the ‘big two’ in recent memory, being just 3.5pc, whereas for much of the past two years, it has been 6pc or more. The gap was as wide as 8.5pc as recently as May, and is now again out to close to 6pc.

Looking at both company’s longer-term trends, however, Woolworths’ latest Moving Annual Total (MAT) figure is 30.99pc, (-1.14pc on a year ago), while Coles latest MAT is 26.32pc, still +1.9pc on a year earlier.

The competitive position for beef for independent butchers continued to decline in the latest Neilsen Homescan survey, easing a further 0.3pc to 24.4pc of all beef sales by value. That figure is easily the lowest share held by butchers in at least two years, and reflects the current strong price competitiveness being seen among major supermarkets through discounting, reward programs, promotion and other retailing strategies.

Among the smaller retail beef participants, the independently-owned IGA supermarket group continues a strong growth cycle that started back in February. IGA has quietly picked up almost 1pc of national beef market value share, despite the price wars happening at the big end of town. IGA’s share has grown from 6.8pc at the start of the year to 7.6pc for September.

The German-owned ALDI supermarket group has followed a similar trend, growing from 5.5pc to 6.3pc over the past nine months.

Other supermarkets and farmers markets have stayed basically unchanged for most of this year, finishing September on 4.5pc share, down from a recent high-point of 4.8pc in May.    

Protein pricing

Focussing on price per volume signals for different meat proteins conducted as part of the Neilsen Homescan survey, beef finished the rolling quarter ended September 29 at $9.90/kg, unchanged from the past three reporting periods. Note that the prices reported by Neilsen are measured as the average $/kg value of the items in the surveyed shopping baskets, and do not represent the overall value of beef being sold in the retail marketplace.

Other competing proteins were either static, or moving downwards. Lamb, for example, the current focus for deep discounting among the major retailers, has lost almost $1/kg since early stages this year, finishing in the latest survey at $11.10/kg. Chicken and pork both rose a little, possibly beginning to reflect higher feedgrain costs.

Protein sales grow

Overall, the fresh meat category (all red and white proteins, not just beef) experienced sales growth of 0.7pc for the quarter ending September 29, compared to the same time period last year.

Beef’s share of overall meat sales, by value, remained relatively stable during September (-0.08pc from August), even though its price increased slightly (+$0.12).

Because of recent retail supermarket price discounting, lamb’s share of all protein sales grew a little, from 14.0pc to 13.9pc in the rolling quarter ended September 29. Pork (+0.14pc) also grew compared to the same quarter last year, but this was mostly due to easing prices at retail.

Even though chicken prices were reasonably steady (-$0.02), its share experienced a drop (-0.50pc) in comparison to the same quarter in 2011.


  • Understanding the Neilsen Homescan data: MLA earlier this year adopted a new monthly retail fresh meat market share analysis, provided by Neilsen Australia Homescan. It replaces the previous Roy Morgan single-source data that has been used for the past ten years. To read MLA’s full explanatory notes on the changes to the monthly retail survey, click here





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