UK Food & Beverages in the Era of COVID-19

The following trends are from primary research conducted by AMI’s UK representative, which are consistent with retail and foodservice sales trends in other European markets:

• UK Retail Sales Boom
o UK grocery sales +20.6% in March vs. LY
o The Big 4 supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda & Morrisons – +17.7% combined
o Discount retail giants Aldi and Lidl +24.5% over the period
o Convenience stores +30%
o Independent retailers double the growth in grocery at +45%
Factors Driving Retail Sales Growth in the UK
o Foodservice sales switched to retail, causing surge in retail demand
o Increasing consumer basket size and total spend
E-Commerce
o Ocado, UK’s leading Food & Beverage e-commerce platform, experienced 10x demand
o Ocado sales in Q1 increased +12.5% with 133,000 new customers acquired
o All e-commerce retailers limited available items for sale and prioritized vulnerable customers
Retailers Adapting to New Environment
o Limited number of items eases availability issues
o Offer elderly, vulnerable and medical staff exclusive shopping hours
o Retail execs assigned new temporary roles to deal with emergency situation
Foodservice
o Foodservice sales declined -71% in March vs. LY
o Healthcare accounted for 67% of foodservice sales vs. 6% normally
o Hotels, restaurants, cafes, close and reliable on government funding to survive
o All outlets focus on food delivery, take out and app orders to maintain income
Suppliers/Manufacturers
o Key issue in retail is supplying huge demand
o Payment terms from smaller suppliers has been reduced by large chain grocery accounts
o Promotions cancelled which equals higher sales and margins for retailers
o Essential items such as paper goods and comfort foods have been the focus of demand
o Temporary de-listings have impacted smaller suppliers
o New product launches have been postponed or cancelled
o E-commerce becomes a larger portion of all supplier’s sales
o Foodservice suppliers are the hardest hit

Nonetheless there are positive signs in the UK Food & Beverage industry. The advantages of a Direct-to- Consumer model are clear and business will focus more on succeeding in this channel. Finally, agility and resilience will be the rule, and businesses large and small will need to respond quickly and creatively to new future challenges and opportunities.

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