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One important addition in Euromonitor International’s new packaged food system is within processed fruit and vegetables which is now a standalone grouping with 80 new dedicated country reports to be published over the next two months. Processed fruit and vegetables is a globally significant category that is worth over US$52 billion and has risen at a CAGR of 3% over 2010-2015, largely driven by Latin America’s demand for shelf stable fruit and vegetables. Whilst strong growth is recorded in the latter region, processed fruit and vegetables struggles with saturation and growth is only half that recorded in packaged food at 6%. Its disappointing growth is causing many companies to rebalance their food portfolios, with Green Giant’s ousting from General Mills being the latest example.
Despite this slow growth, few markets stand out where demand for processed fruit and vegetables is not yet waning. The breakout category of frozen fruit has outperformed the overall category growth at 6% driven by North America in absolute terms and the wider Latin American region and Russia in terms of percentage growth.
Source: Euromonitor International
Processed food, such as fruit and vegetables, is facing tough times amid changing consumer eating habits that have helped trigger a wave of consolidation and caused a reshuffle in company rankings. In early 2015, Kraft merged with Heinz, creating the largest staple food company in the world, Nomad Foods swept up Iglo and assets of Findus Group’s continental European business, and General Mills ousted one of its biggest brands, Green Giant.
Source: Euromonitor International
Consumers are filling their shopping baskets with more fresh produce and vegetables and turning to freezers less than in the past. In fact, processed fruit and vegetables now represents 2% of the total packaged food market, down from 3% in 2005. Consumers demanding healthier and less processed food are two of the biggest challenges facing processed staple foods, yet different nuances can be found across markets.
Russia is facing the lagged effects of the imposed food embargo, which has resulted in increased prices for imported products and raw materials in processed fruit and vegetables. With decreased disposable incomes, Russian consumers are stripping back to basics, as was also seen during the financial crisis of 2009. As such, emphasising a lower price paid for processed fruit and vegetables compared to fresh is a key selling point in Russia, alongside increased convenience.
Having said that, brands in Russia face strong competition, with retailers O’key and Dixy launching their own private label products, responding to consumer demand for value for money alternatives. Notably, the share of private label almost doubled from 4% in 2010 to 7% in 2015. Going forward, premium brands should respond to this by offering smaller pack sizes and therefore enable consumers to still enjoy higher quality food, yet in smaller quantities.
In Brazil quite the opposite holds true compared to Russia. Rising disposable incomes and the growing desire for convenience among Brazilians continue to bolster processed fruit and vegetable consumption. Busier lifestyles feed growing appreciation for the convenience of processed fruit and vegetables, though new launches and promotional activities also helped to strengthen demand. Particularly processed peas and corn, are not only consumed as side dishes, but also commonly used as ingredients in salads, savoury pies and many other homemade recipes. In Brazil, shelf stable and frozen processed food retain a key competitive advantage over chilled and fresh produce as they are significantly cheaper and enjoy longer shelf lives. However, in contrast to Russia, whilst a lower price is a clear benefit, consumers are keen to try branded products along with increased disposable income and a rising Socioeconomic C class. What is more, Brazil is still underdeveloped in terms of per capita consumption and has far more potential to grow. To illustrate, the average Brazilian consumes 2kg of processed fruit and vegetables a year compared to Australasia (16kg), North America (14kg) and Western Europe (13kg).
The overall direction for processed fruit and vegetables is clear; growth will be minimal with sales rising at a retail value CAGR of 1%; far below the overall packaged food CAGR of 3% over 2015-2020. Previous mergers seen in the staples market, such as Kraft Heinz and Nomad Foods, are indicative of the direction that the packaged food business will take in the years to come. With maintaining profit margins becoming increasingly difficult, improving cost efficiencies is very much a priority for companies.
Whilst growth is minimal, processed fruit and vegetables will still generate US$2.5 billion in new sales over the next five years and substantial gains can be made in the growing Latin American markets of Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Combined, these three will account for a quarter of absolute global growth and more detailed analysis on these markets will follow in the upcoming country reports.