British Food Brand Footprint
Brand Footprint: The British ranking of the most chosen food brands
The British ranking of the most
chosen food brands
Setting the scene and introducing
the top 20 brands of 2019.
The take home food sector came under pressure last year with consumer confidence levels dropping to their lowest levels since the 2008-9 recession due to Brexit uncertainty.
This Brand Footprint report is being published at a time of huge behavioural and economic change due to COVID-19. At the time of writing this situation is ongoing and the long-term outlook is unclear.
A Worldpanel Plus survey carried out early in the year showed that 78% of people were worried about higher food prices in the event of a “No deal Brexit”.
Conversely, it was the area that they were least likely to cut back on with only 22% saying that they would reduce spending, in contrast eating out was the most likely at 60%.
Shoppers worried Brexit would bring higher prices
Source: Worldpanel Plus survey. 7,008 respondents over weekend Feb 2019
British Top 20 Food Brands
For some areas of the sector comparisons were tough against the peaks reached in the glorious 2018 summer, a royal wedding and several major sporting events. On the upside, Easter in 2019 fell a lot later, which was particularly beneficial to the chocolate brands as it gave them longer to tempt shoppers with their wares.
In the face of all the disruption, there was growth for 12 of the top
20 food brands in this year’s Brand Footprint Food ranking and the
sector’s sales increased in value by 1.5% to £43.6 billion.
This shows that despite the prevailing conditions, there are always opportunities for brands to grow. Understanding consumers and their needs is the foundation for this.
In this report we will examine some of the key trends from 2019 and what brands have done to address them.
A world of flavour
Consumers crave the big, bold, exotic flavours they find eating out. Smart brands have realised this and sought to re-create some of the street food thrill on the grocery shelves.
As the supermarkets make more space for the world foods aisle, new and more exotic flavours were offered across a range of products. Street food is particularly popular with millennials as it meets their preference for authentic and tasty products. This also ties in with the growth of vegan food as it is a way to add flavour to plant-based ingredients.
Pot Noodle, position 22 in the Brand Footprint ranking with a CRP increase of 11%, launched Asian Street Style. Available in flavours including Malaysian Laksa and Thai Red Curry, Asian Street Style achieved a penetration of 2% in the first eight months which was a key contributor to the brand’s success along with growth in both standard and king pots. Noodles have been in growth for five years now, up 9% last year. Batchelors, in position 14 this year, has had a strategic partnership with Japanese noodle brand Nissin for the last three years. They saw growth in this and their other pot snack products (which includes Pasta N Sauce and Super Rice) of 4%.
The food sector is particularly influenced by what is happening in the Out of Home market. People are often more adventurous when eating out, and this is reflected in the wide range of new cuisines available, for example in 2018 Ikeyi became the first African restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Lack of confidence last year meant that people ate out on average four times less but a side effect was the growing popularity of interesting flavours that can be prepared at home. Meal kits and seasonings are doing well in catering to this trend, for example Schwartz which launched a street food spices range.
The snack category also reflected the world foods trend, with a very successful launch for McCoys Muchos, which achieved seventh place in Kantar’s FMCG Innovations ranking. Muchos is a tortilla product available in a range of Mexican flavours and was strongly supported through the When Mexican Flavour Calls campaign which ran on TV and had instore support. Since the launch in January 2019, the brand reached 2.5 million households and achieved sales of £9 million. Crucially it has return appeal with 28% buying it again within a year. Doritos in position 25 grew CRPs by 1% due to their offering of strong flavours, but also the success of the bigger sharing bag.
Out of home footfall fell over the year
Source: Kantar Out-of-home purchase panel
Change of occasion
Finding more moments of consumption is one of the key levers for growth identified by Brand Footprint. Brands have innovated and stretched into new spaces to grow their appeal.
Understanding the changing needs of people consuming their lunch at the desk, the John West steam pot range was extended to tap into this occasion. Offering rice, pasta or noodles, they were marketed as a protein-rich lunch that could simply be prepared with boiling water. This offered a different and easier way to consume fish.
The concept of biscuits moving into a sharing bag nibble format is not new, but neither does it seem it is a saturated market. McVitie’s in position 3 successfully launched Jaffa cake nibbles in both a sharing bag format and a single one. Kit-Kat grew by 12% and also moved into a new occasion with the launch of Senses boxes to target a more premium sharing moment.
Brand Focus: Warburtons
Proving that big doesn’t mean slow, number one food brand Warburtons once again had a very successful launch with their new bagel range which was available from May 2019 and achieved second place in the Kantar FMCG innovation ranking. This along with previous new products such as their sourdough toastie loaf opens the brand up to new occasions such as brunch. The bagels were trialled by 12% of the population in the first seven months after launch reaching an impressive 3.3 million households. While sandwiches are in decline as people experiment with new baked formats, innovating beyond the standard sliced loaf is how Warburtons continues to grow every year.
Hear more on why understanding the occasion will unlock brand growth from Demand Spaces expert Katie Shade
Appealing to the health-conscious moment has become a mainstay of brand strategies.
Combined with environmental concerns, this was the year Plant-based eating came to the fore.
Health is a very significant driver of choice, accounting for 32% of food decisions and worth £20 billion. Growth of health as a choice stalled last year for the first time in a decade, although there was a 7% increase in food chosen for calorie/portion control. Health means different things to different people, for example natural and organic ingredients, superfoods and the absence of things like gluten or meat.
The meat-free market alone grew by 18% in the last year and is now worth £475 million. The increase is due to both the growth of new shoppers and a 6% frequency increase.
1.5 billion fewer items chosen for health reasons in the past year
Total in home and carried out consumption, 52 w/e December 2019
In this year’s Brand Footprint ranking, Pringles in position 18 grew CRPs by 10% after the successful launch of a healthier variant with the Rice Fusions range. Also tapping into the trend for strong flavours, it comes in four versions inspired by Asian meal concepts. It was one of the biggest launches in grocery last year, worth over £10 million.
McCain also looked to make one of its core products more permissible with Home Chips Light. Since its launch in January 2019 Home Chips Light has been listed nationally across all major retailers and achieved £11.4m sales and reached 8% of the population (2.2 million households).
Dark chocolate is sometimes perceived as healthier due to a lower sugar content and has seen penetration grow from 49% to 60% over the last five years. In March 2019 Bournville launched Giant Buttons which for the first time moved the brand from block chocolate to sharing bags, opening them up new moments of consumption. Only 10 months after launch, 9% of the UK population had trialled them with sales of £7.1m.
Cadbury Dairy Milk, in position 6 benefitted from a longer Easter season, and greater availability in the discounters also contributed to their 9% CRP growth. Cadbury’s brought out a Darkmilk chocolate with 40% cocoa solids as did Galaxy in position 17.
Saving the planet
Behind the scenes most brands are working hard to reduce their footprint.
Consumer recognition for their efforts is harder to come by.
Single-use plastic in particular and sustainability in general are ongoing concerns for the food sector. Last year saw supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda remove plastic bags from their online deliveries and more recently Tesco announced the removal of plastic from multipack items. Morrison’s removed plastic from fresh fruit and vegetables but also allowed consumers to bring reusable containers to their meat, fish and cheese counters.
Consumers worry about plastic but expect retailers and brands to do most of the work in reducing its impact. Kantar’s recent report Who Cares, Who Does reveals that only 20% of people believe that it is their responsibility to use less plastic and yet only 10% can name a brand that stands for sustainability.
Unilever is one business among many making real efforts, for example the manufacturer of Pot Noodle plans for their instant snack brands to be “fully reusable, recyclable or compostable” by 2025. Other brands who have launched innovations recently include pasta brand Barilla who now have a 100% compostable box and ready-meal producer Bol who use packaging which is derived from sugar cane.
Levers for growth
The 2020 Brand Footprint ranking has examples of brands responding to trends and using all of the levers for growth to find new ways to grow. Here are a few of the notable examples.
Cadbury Dairy Milk – distribution in the discounters
McCoys Muchos - supported by When Mexican Flavour Calls campaign which ran on TV and had instore support
Kinder – the confectionary brand moved into the freezer with ice cream
Kit-Kat Senses – moving into premium with both boxed sharing and single bars
McCain – launched Home Chips Light (30% less fat) to appeal to people who were focused on health
Maltesers – launched white truffles variant following the successful launch of truffles
Fox’s – launched fun size rocky bars to appeal to the growing carried-out snacking trend
Hartley’s – launched jelly pouches to appeal to kids on the go
Bisto – launched microwavable gravy pots for the busy consumer
Princes – launched mackerel sizzle to respond to the need that consumers didn’t know how to cook mackerel
look out for
Challenges and opportunities coming into view.
a way of reducing the environmental impact of growing food
the ability to tailor product content to meet individual needs
could there be legislative intervention if brands don’t act quickly enough?
Kantar’s study of 65,000 people across 24 countries about the use of plastic by FMCG companies.
Kantar’s study of 65,000 people across 24 countries about the use of plastic by FMCG companies.