Kantar is always useful in its gathering of data and insightful in its analysis. We’ve been fortunate to have Kantar share its insights at many of our events including in workshops we wrote about here:
Now Joe Shaw Roberts, Consumer Insights Director for Kantar Worldpanel, will be presenting a piece of research that will kick off a panel titled Consumer Response To New Varities, facilitated by yours truly!
We asked Matthew Ogg, contributing editor at Produce Business and ProduceBusinessUK.com, to find out more about this research:
Joe Shaw Roberts
Consumer Insight Director
Q: At the Global Grape Summit to start a session on new varieties, you’ll be presenting the results of a study done at Kantar. Could you please tell me about that?
A: Firstly it’s based on two methodologies — the first is our core product, which is a purchase panel representative of Great Britain buying behavior in the grocery market, and then from that we have a subset of that sample who also fill out a consumption diary uncovering reasons behind consumption of groceries, so that’s where the grape information comes from.
Q: And how often do you conduct these studies?
A: We collect the sample continuously and publish our data to the city every month, and we have a syndicated client base who buy into that sample.
Q: And what are some of the key figures and statistics you’ve found with regards to grape industry trends?
A: An interesting stat to kick things off is that grapes feature in 10 percent of all fruit consumption occasions, so whenever we’re eating fruit in the home, grapes feature at 10 percent of those occasions on average.
Q: That’s impressive. How does that compare to how it used to be?
A: That’s growing. And if we break it down by types of occasions, breakfast is really key to grape performance; that’s up 16 percent year-on-year. Also driving growth is carried-out lunch, which is up 9 percent, and for both of those meal times grape growth outstrips total fruit.
Q: Where do grapes rank compared to other high-growth items?
A: Thinking about the biggest fruit winners throughout 2018, bananas are top and then berries and currants are also very strong performers. Actually if we’re thinking about the top five fruit winners, grapes don’t even feature; you’ve also got kiwifruit, pears and melons that perform ahead of grapes. Nonetheless, grapes are still growing.
Q: So table grapes are a major feature in households. This panel you’re going to be kick-starting with your presentation will be talking about varieties — what have you found in that regard and how important is that for driving the category?
A: It’s really important. Thinking long-term going back to 2015, white grapes are in decline of 3 percent, whereas red grapes are in growth of 4 percent, and if we go to the less well-known varieties, black is in strong growth and mixed is in strong growth as well. The long-term growth of grapes is driven by the non-standard varieties.
Q: But as I understand it, white is such a major part of the grape basket historically. Is that to say red, black and mixed are cannibalizing that demand?
A: You‘re right in some of that. There is some consumer spend switching from white grapes to other varieties, particularly red and black; however, those varieties are also adding some additional growth to the category and not just switching spend around.
Thinking about the reasons for grape consumption, health is really key, and that’s grown over the years, so 86 percent of grape consumption moments are chosen for health, which is above total fruit. People are clearly thinking grapes are a particularly healthy option within fruit to choose.
Q: How does that compare to people citing health as a reason for eating fruit generally?
A: That’s on an index of 107, so about 80 percent. That’s a pretty significant difference versus fruit, but interestingly our consumption as a nation for health reasons is slowing, mainly because we’ve got a bit of economic uncertainty. Therefore, the need to find other reasons to make consumers choose grapes is more relevant now than ever.
Q: That uncertainty comes from numerous factors obviously, including Brexit, of course, which we hear about constantly. Is that having any impact on grape consumption itself?
A: Grape consumption is up — I wouldn’t draw a link between Brexit and grape consumption generally. The effect the economic uncertainty is having on our consumption in general however is quite interesting, so there’s a bit of the lipstick effect going on, i.e., treating ourselves with snacks in the home more often as opposed to having a big meal, and that’s an opportunity where grapes can look to drive further growth because grapes are behind total fruit in terms of snacking occasions.
Q: I think that’s something grape traders can take inspiration from. What are some other topics you’ll be discussing at the event in London?
A: I’ll be talking about the long-term growth of grapes and how it fits in with the wider produce industry. I’ll do a bit of scene-setting, and to give you a few flavors of what that might entail, it’s similar to the total grocery landscape. The discounters — Aldi and Lidl — are taking up a lot of share of the market over the last five years and doing really well, and that’s subsequently deflated the market a little bit. So it’s about where can the big four retailers — Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s — find growth.
There’ll be a bit of general engagement with produce being up, so grapes being in a good position because our engagement with total whole head produce is stronger than it ever has been. I’ll be talking about health and general health trends and how grapes can fit into that, and reasons for health consumption. We’re looking to eat more five-a-day, and grapes can benefit from that with clearer on-pack messaging.
Price will be mentioned as well, with all the factors affecting price in the total produce industry, ranging from genuine inflation to sectors with higher average prices and growth — the growth of premium ranges and promotional cutbacks — and I’ll be touching on the success or lack thereof for tertiary brands in produce, and getting people to think about that’s something that could happen in grapes.
There’s an interesting backdrop going on in the U.K. of your standard core own-label produce often being replaced by an imitation brand at a lower price with some kind of claim to be direct from the farm, so that’s a clever marketing ploy. And what that’s done is help the big four retailers claw back a bit of lost share to the discounters. However, it has subsidized their own shoppers‘ spend. So I’ll be examining that for some other categories and encouraging people to think about the effect that could have on grapes.
Q: It’s particularly relevant in light of the fact many grape growers are taking on proprietary varieties, and in order to pay off the associated licenses, they need a premium. So how much are premiums under threat from these conditions?
A: That’s a really good point because if we look at the factors influencing grape performance, we’re seeing massive price deflation.
Just looking at average price — which is affected by a number of things such as absence of promotions or more promotions, pack sizing, economy tiers, which have been growing quite substantially over the years — that’s led to lower prices, and yes there’s been growth through other areas but there’s always that price factor holding the category back.
One thing I’m going to be exploring is whether we play on some messaging around health, which generally commands a premium — and we know grapes are generally chosen for health often – in order to charge a bit more.
Q: I’m sure the industry will be able to take a lot out of that. Is there anything else you’d like to underscore in the lead-up to the event?
A: It’ll be a backdrop of the U.K. produce industry with a focus on grapes. I’d encourage any major fruit or veg suppliers — even if they’re not involved in grapes — to come along and listen to the themes.
As an American, we find it interesting that this study points to such great importance for health as a motivator to eating grapes. We haven’t seen an actual study, but our impression is that, in the US, although fruit has a generally healthy perception and certainly is perceived as healthier than most non-fruit snacks, such as cookies and chips, we don’t sense that grapes have a strong health appeal beyond that. Yes, there has been some attention to resveratrol (LINK), but that has been heavily associated with red wine and, to a large extent, discredited.
Pomegranates, blueberries, kale – all seem to have been recognized for specific health benefits in a way less common with grapes.
We are also fascinated by the findings that breakfast is a fast-growing eating occasion for grapes – again, not something we have seen much evidence for in the states.
This is a fascinating piece of research, and the panel discussion will be intriguing. And, in this case, much of what we are talking about when analyzing proprietary grape varieties is also much about the future of the whole produce industry as the industry transitions to age of proprietary varieties.
We hope you will join us in London to hear this important Kantar presentation and to engage with the intersection of consumer action and new varieties.
The website for the Global grape summit is here.
The website for The London Produce Show and Conference is here.
You can register just for the Global Grape Summit here.
or for both the Global grape summit and The London produce show and conference here
if you have questions or need help please let us know here.