Macro Trends in the UK Grocery Industry and Where to Find Them

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UK Supermarkets and Their Suppliers are Always ‘Horizon Scanning’ and Wanting to Understand the Macros Trends in the Industry.

New Foods, New Trends, Legal Changes, Changes in Shopping Habits, New Store Experiences, and So On.

#1: IRI – Information Resources, Inc.

IRI is a data analytics and market research company and is headquartered in the U.S. It provides clients with consumer, shopper, and retail market intelligence and analysis focused on the macro trends of the consumer packaged goods, retail, and healthcare industries.

The Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on businesses across the globe, including FMCG and retail. The pandemic is leading to a recession in many countries.

IRI is closely tracking changes in our industry to help our clients understand the resulting changes in consumer and shopper behaviour across categories, brands, private labels, channels and retailers in the areas affected by the virus.

Our goal is to help companies determine how to best handle promotions, out-of-stocks, pricing and assortment to meet the changing needs of consumers.

1.2: Four macro trends snack food manufacturers and retailers can’t ignore

Have you had any snacks yet today? I’m guessing yes, as snacking during the day is more popular than ever. In fact, in 2017, 14.2 per cent of the U.S. population has reported snacking five or more times per day.

While snacking occasions continue to increase, snack food manufacturers and retailers need to be aware of some relevant macro trends. Because, they are impacting whether consumers buy a brand or leave it on the shelf. By being aware of and leveraging these trends, companies can take the right steps to excite consumers and drive additional sales.

1.3: Four meat macro trends to watch this year

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred consumer interest in meat, with the meat department growing 19.2% in 2020, to $82.5 billion. Meat also won on every level of growth due to household penetration, dollars/buyer, trips/buyer and meat trips.

Now that we are into 2021, and life is somewhat normalising and vaccinations becoming more widespread, what’s the future for meat going to look like now, and how can manufacturers and retailers keep growth going?

Woman pushing shopping trolley with food through a supermarket aisle
Watch out for the meat trends


#2: Kamcity’s macro trends

Established in 1997, the website was set up to provide news, tools and insights for Key / National Account Managers (KAMs / NAMs), and related departments working in the FMCG retail / manufacturing industry.

KamCity logo on a white background
Proving tools and insights for Key National Account Managers


2.1: Report finds grocery shoppers focused on health, online and value

With government restrictions impacting shopping patterns and speeding up the shift to online, the Disruption and Uncertainty – State of Grocery Retail 2021 study, identified four key trends that will shape the industry over the next years. These are based on the areas consumers intend to spend more money on and what CEOs see as the key industry-shaping trends.

2.2 Five global retail trends for 2022

1. Dealing with disruption

Businesses became masters of uncertainty in 2021. Looking ahead to this year agility, flexibility and resilience will need to remain the cornerstones of retail operating strategies, particularly due to the emergence of new variants, supply chain challenges, labour issues and cost inflation.

2. Physical fights back

Retailers will need to adopt a range of tactics to generate shopper footfall in the short term and develop strategies to use space in new ways over the longer term in their physical stores. Five themes, in particular, will shape the physical store of the future. Experiential and exciting, digitally enabled, highly efficient, and naturally sustainable.

3. Quick commerce evolution

The quick commerce space is evolving rapidly and becoming crowded, with many pure plays launching over the last 12 months. While this creates opportunities to reach new customers and serve new missions. Therefore IGD is expecting to see consolidation in the market over the next year.

4. Restoration retail

Shoppers expect the industry to lead on key sustainability issues. Retailers will continue to implement solutions to reduce packaging, specifically plastic packaging, and food waste. They will progress with strategies to reduce their operating and supply chain environmental impact.

5. Powering up profitability

Retailers will experiment with technology to enhance their operations and drive profitability. Successful retailers will introduce digital technologies that have a low capital investment and are easy to update and rollout at scale.

2.3 Grocery shoppers turning to own label and discounters as inflation bites

Inflation spelled with wooden word scramble cubes next to yellow up arrows
Grocery price inflation is at its highest


The latest market data from Kantar shows that grocery price inflation has hit its highest level in 10 years. Which has led consumers to adjusting their shopping habits to save money.

Take home grocery sales fell 6.3% over the 12 weeks to 20 March as people continued returning to eating out of the home again. Sales were still up versus two years ago, although only by 0.7% as the comparison now includes the record buying seen before the first lockdown.

“What we’re really starting to see is the switch from the pandemic being the main factor driving our shopping behaviour towards the growing impact of inflation, as the cost of living becomes the main issue on consumers’ minds” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

Over the latest four weeks, grocery price inflation reached its highest level since April 2012 at 5.2%. And prices rose fastest in markets such as savoury snacks and pet food.

#3: Streetbees

Streetbees is a London-based global intelligence platform that reveals how people behave. And, by analysing real-life moments collected from its worldwide users on an always-on basis.

3.1 Plant-based is now really McMainstream

The final frontier has been breached. Last month, McDonalds launched the trial of its McPlant burgers in the UK (we should note that it has already been launched/trialled elsewhere earlier in the year). Of course, plant-based has been a growing phenomenon for the last few years, but somehow its (rather overdue) arrival under the golden arches seems like a key threshold has been breached.

3.2 What macro trends are in consumer behaviour?

In the simplest terms, consumer behaviour refers to the study of individuals and the factors that influence their decisions to purchase products or services. It’s a useful general rubric for beginning to analyse how your company’s actions and strategies are functioning. But more importantly, how they can be improved. This guide will walk you through what consumer behaviour is and how to use it to drive profits and maximise your business’s performance.

#4: thefoodpeople

thefoodpeople are a unique food trends and ideas agency specialising in food trendspotting, reporting and predicting, and food ideation.

4.1 The rising cost of livings effect on macro trends

The global cost of living increase is having a major effect on the everyday lives of millions of people, but brands, chefs and influencers are on hand to provide tips. We’ve explored this general rising cost of living topic in a recent food watching report which covers energy, meal planning, health, waste and more.

4.2 Burger king goes meat-free in Leicester Square for relaunch

Stack of plant-based burger meat on a blue plate with soy beans
Meat-free is a growing grocery trend


QSR chain Burger King has relaunched its flagship Leicester Square location with a fully meat-free menu for a month. This lasts until 10th April. Following a redesign, the London restaurant reopened today as completely plant-based with a host of new menu items. Including a plant-based Cheeeze & Bakon Whopper, the Vegan Nugget Burger and Vegan Chilli Cheeeze Bites.

#5: Experian

Experian is an Anglo–Irish multinational consumer credit reporting company. And Experian collects information on over 1 billion people and businesses including 235 million individual U.S. consumers and more than 25 million U.S. businesses.

5.1 The ever-changing customer landscape – turning consumer insight into action

Why are consumer behaviours changing?

Since 2020, two evolving key factors impacting a consumer’s ability to purchase goods and services are i. access to and supply of goods and ii. affordability.

During the pandemic, physical access to goods and services were limited, moving almost entirely to a digital-first model. Whilst beneficial for established online retailers, smaller businesses were forced to pause trading to develop online digital capabilities. For a time, consumers embraced this new model. Because, they were able to buy everything from groceries, toys and even high-cost meal kits online. And when bricks and mortar stores began to re-open, consumers returned with caution. Therefore, we are still seeing 28% of retail sales online vs. 2019 levels, with buyers enjoying the simplicity of online purchasing.

2021 saw further challenges introduced, with the long-anticipated exit from the European Union, disruption at ports, import duties and changes to regulation meant goods entering the UK from the EU were further to additional scrutiny.

#6: Kantar

Kantar Group is a data analytics and brand consulting company, based in London, England. It was founded in 1992 and has approximately 30,000 employees in 100 countries working in various research disciplines. These include social media monitoring, advertising effectiveness, consumer and shopper behaviour, and public opinion.

6.1 Emerging meal preparation trends

Discover how lockdown-inspired meal preparation habits will evolve post-pandemic and what this means for the food sector.

Under lockdown, it was inevitable that Britain’s meal preparation habits would see a major shift. With people suddenly stuck at home for long periods, a greater focus on getting meals ready became a reality for many of us. Either out of choice or out of necessity from, for example, suddenly having a whole family to feed at every meal.

We undertook research earlier this year exploring Britain’s meal preparation trends. Thie enabled us to better understand how habits have changed and what they will look like as we emerge from the pandemic.

6.2 Grocery sales hit £11.7 billion as brits splash out on Christmas

Living room with decorated Christmas tree with many gifts and a fireplace
The biggest shopping season of the year – Christmas


Our latest figures show take-home grocery sales reached £31.7 billion over the 12 weeks to 26 December 2021 as shoppers made the most of Christmas festivities. Although down by 3% compared with 2020, spending remains higher than it was pre-pandemic and sales were 8% stronger than in 2019.

People seized the chance to enjoy Christmas with friends and family after last year’s muted festivities. Also, grocery sales hit £11.7 billion over the month of December. This lofty spend figure is down just 0.2% on record 2020 sales. The data suggests that while there weren’t formal rules in place across the UK this year, many people celebrated at home again due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Therefore, we can see just how much spending accelerated in December compared with earlier in the year. Looking at the average trend from March to November, when sales were down by 2.5% against 2020.

6.3 Grocery growth slows and habits change as UK adapts

Take home grocery sales in Britain increased by 9.1% in the 12 weeks to 19 April as consumers settled into life under lockdown and stocked up on food and household essentials, according to the latest figures from Kantar. While grocery sales are high, however, it remains a challenging market for retailers as social distancing restrictions and low footfall will have had a knock-on effect on non-grocery categories.

#7: Nielseniq macro trends

NielsenIQ is a global measurement and data analytics company for retail and consumer intelligence.

7.1 How to understand and measure the great grocery shopper shift

Today’s shopping habits are not the same as they were even five years ago. Plus, grocery shopping norms in particular shifted dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than a year later, customers are more comfortable with the new reality of grocery shopping.

7.2 Total commerce landscape: How omnichannel is altering grocery shopping norms

Harvey Ma, Senior VP of Omni, Consumer, and Retail Performance for NielsenIQ. He recently presented at the Groceryshop 2021 conference on omnichannel grocery shopping.

During his presentation, he introduced the idea of the “total commerce landscape”. This implies expanding and aligning a strategic view by monitoring all consumers’ ways of interacting with retailers and brands.

7.3 Fresh trends: Tracking the four trends driving growth across the fresh section

Across the total consumer packaged goods (CPG) landscape, we’ve been tracking a handful of key shifts taking place that are paving the way for growth for savvy manufacturers and retailers. In the fresh food space, the four trends offering the most opportunity at a macro level are transparency, convenience, health, and snacking.

#8: IGD

IGD (Institute of Grocery Distribution) is an organisation of two interconnected communities. Their trading company uses in-depth commercial understanding to uncover rich insights and data, leading to action that powers success.

8.1 IGD unveils five global retail trends for 2022

Global insight provider IGD has published its predictions for the global retail trends that are set to shape the international food and consumer goods industry in 2022. The new report outlines five key trends to help retailers and suppliers navigate the ongoing challenges brought about by COVID-19 and plan for the year ahead.

Toby Pickard, Head of Innovation and Future Retail Insight at IGD, said: “2021 was a year of ongoing disruption and adaptation for the food and consumer goods industry as we saw ever changing government policies, economic challenges and supply chain disruption, along with shopper behaviour changes. “The continuation of COVID-19 has significantly accelerated digital transformation and refocused sustainability concerns for shoppers and businesses alike. Using our in-depth retailer and shopper knowledge we have predicted what strategic priorities will be key to businesses this year.”

8.2 Appetite for Change 2021

‘Our latest research reveals there is still a significant appetite for change among UK consumer to shift towards healthy, sustainable diets. Over three years, we’ve undertaken consumer research with 6,000 UK consumers, to understand the opportunities for and barriers to positively shifting diets. We have captured people’s attitudes prior to healthy, sustainable diets, before, during and post COVID-19 restrictions and are now putting theory into practice with millions of UK shoppers, to drive tangible behaviour change in real life settings. This wave of research was carried out between 30th July – 2nd August, after the lifting of restrictions in England in July.’

#9: Mintel

9.1 2022 Global Consumer Trends

As the experts in what consumers want and why Mintel is best suited to accurately predict the future of consumer behaviour and what that means for brands and global markets.

Looking ahead to 2022, our market trend analysis and prediction research are grounded by observations of the key drivers of consumer behaviour and backed by Mintel’s robust data sets. In 2022, expect consumer behaviour to shift and evolve in response to the following five global consumer trends.

Action: For more about grocery, check out our ultimate guide on GSCOP.

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