A trade journalist’s head is filled with many statistics, not all of them useful. But of all the stats learned over many years, there’s one that never fails to raise eyebrows: the penetration of butters and margarines in UK households is greater than toilet paper.


The amount added in sales by chilled and fresh in the convenience sector in the past four years, according to IGD

It’s the kind of statistic that leaves you amazed at how saturated (no pun intended) the yellow fats market is and, rather more darkly, wondering just what do the people who don’t use toilet paper actually use? Once you’ve got past the inevitable shudder, you realise the huge task manufacturers of butters, spreads and margarines face in garnering sales.

The overall value of yellow fats and oils is rising, according to Mintel, and will continue to do so in the next four years, and could soar from £1.7bn in 2012 to £2.2bn by 2016. However, this isn’t the full picture as price rises which have helped lift value have had an impact on volume, which is down by 4% from 2007 to 2012 (source: Mintel).

Within the market as a whole, some sectors are doing better than others. Butter sales have seen good sales growth from 2007 to 2012, fuelled by rises in milk prices and the growth of spreadable butters, but volume is down by 10% as the bite of rising prices hits shoppers’ spend. Volume sales of spreads are down 7% during the same period, yet sales have risen 35% with the sector taking on spreadable butters with further emphasis on buttery taste.

In fact, taste is a key buying factor, according to Mintel, ranking high in decision-making for consumers, over promotions (53% vs 40%, GMI/Mintel).

According to Unilever category manager for chilled food Adrian Adams, this isn’t surprising. “Shoppers are increasingly unwilling to compromise on taste in order to be healthier. This presents a clear opportunity for the category to maximise sales through product innovation and improved shopper education on how they can better manage their family’s health.”

Be a winner in yogurt sales

Almost two thirds of chilled yogurts and pot desserts in convenience stores come from the top 10 brands so stock well known brands with increased facings of fast selling lines

Enhance top up opportunities with four packs and natural yogurts

Convenience stores over index on indulgent lines so include luxury yogurts and desserts to drive impulse sales

Use the saint to sinner model for layout - from natural, health all the way through to luxury and full fat

Merchandising face up can produce a 10% sales uplift

Drive instant consumption by stocking spoons in spoon holders at the fixture

This category serves multiple usage well as a breakfast, snack, lunch or healthy dessert so dual site to highlight this

Source: Muller

Unilever’s Flora pro.activ brand continues its partnership with the British Heart Foundation, donating £750,000 over the next three years to the charity and continuing its campaign to highlight the risk of heart disease to women.

Health continues to be a big driver in the marketplace, with 38% of yellow fat users saying that they are trying to cut back on how much butter or spread they use, according to Mintel.

There’s no shortage of products targeting health aspects in this market place, either. In January, Dairy Crest brought out Clover Seedburst, containing a blend of seed and wholegrains. The company hopes that the product will bring new, health-focused shoppers to the Clover brand.

The future of the sector looks pretty good, with growth in two key user groups: the 25-34 age group who like cooking from scratch and the functional-seeking over-55s. The latter group is key for the cholesterol-lowering spread market with three in 10 over-65s buying this type of spread.

The good news in the yellow fats market is reflected in a buoyant chilled and fresh category. Over the past four years, within convenience chilled and fresh food have grown 45% (source: Kerry Foods). However, it’s an area that not all retailers are comfortable with, says Kerry Fresh customer marketing controller Richard Tyler. “It’s the space that scares them, but if they spend time with it it can really pay dividends. If you combine chilled and fresh it’s the number two category, and the trends indicate that it will overtake tobacco in the next few years.”

Earlier this year, the company relaunched Kerry Fresh. The new range offers sale or return on a large number of products and, from July, will be available in single units to help eliminate waste.

Retailer view

“We have 16 bays of chilled at our store - it’s a big area for our sales turnover. The fresh section, which includes chilled, makes up 50% of store turnover so it’s important to keep the range up to date and interesting.

“We make sure that we always brief staff when new things come in. The popular things are the Italian ranges and food to go and then, of course, you have your core ranges such as milk.

“We always make sure we adapt and change the way we merchandise things to keep up to date. You need to give the category the attention it deserves because that’s where the money is.”

Tim Farmer, Eurospar, Broomhill, Sheffield

Kepak convenience marketing director John Armstrong agrees that chilled is an opportunity that retailers can’t afford to miss. “Every week, consumers go to the fridge for food and drink almost twice as often as the cupboard. Plus there’s a growing demand for bigger fridges in the home, so people have a lot more space to fill.”

He acknowledges, though, that manufacturers have a role to play in helping c-stores manage their chilled offering. “We try to communicate core ranging and to not be greedy pushing everything. We’re not telling c-stores to list shiny new NPD just because it’s shiny and new. Retailers have lots of voices shouting potentially conflicting advice and it’s about putting yourself in their shoes and having a consistent message about what chilled can bring.”

Mondelēz trade communications manager Susan Nash points out that chilled shoppers are particularly valuable to c-stores, with basket spend at £10.44 per visit versus the £6.04 c-store average (source: HIM CTP 2013).

Bagged salads

With purses tightening you might be forgiven for thinking that customers would be looking to go back to basics, foregoing time-saving products with a higher price tag. However, in the bagged salad category this isn’t the case.

Florette marketing manager Elaine Smith says: “The most recent stats from Nielsen see the category growing 3% to £556m, with penetration into households at 73%.”

She believes there are further opportunities to be had around frequency of purchase. “Bagged salads are bought about 14 times a year, but we think we can increase this by 50%. And the way to do it is through inspiration.”

The company’s One Minute Wonder campaign, launched earlier this year, is now coming to fruition with the winning salad-based recipe from its digital consumer competition to be featured in three TV executions in July and August.

According to market analysts HIM, chilled customers are more likely to be female, with 37% having children in the household.

The market also appeals heavily to the older generation. These shoppers also tend to be more impulsive than the average c-store shopper and are highly promotional driven, with 29% reporting buying an item they didn’t intend to on entering the c-store.

Nash says: “More shoppers are using small stores to top up on traditional grocery items, and chilled items are the number two reason for visiting a convenience store - and the most frequently purchased category in the convenience sector.” She points to the meal for tonight phenomenon as part of the reason for this.

Philadelphia has long been promoted as a cooking ingredient as well as a spread, but in May the company launched Philadelphia Simply Stir pouches specifically designed for adding while cooking.


When it comes to the yogurts and desserts market, there’s pots of potential still to be realised. The total market achieved an 18% growth from 2007-2012 and the success is forecast to continue, from about £3bn in 2012 to £3.6bn by 2017 (source: Mintel). Yet despite this, a whopping 43% of c-stores don’t stock the category, according to Müller. But with 96% of households purchasing yogurts (source: Kantar Worldpanel) and with chilled yogurts and pot desserts the third biggest sector after milk, there’s an opportunity clearly being missed.

When it comes to buying factors health is still a key issue, with the majority of users (38%) choosing low fat and 31% all natural (source: Mintel). However, thick and creamy texture (30%) comes in above low-calorie and low-sugar (both 27%), while 36% of consumers look for added health benefits. Interestingly, only 16% of consumers say brand is the most important factor. Major player Müller, with its 32% market share, has been busy innovating this year with a makeover for its Müllerlight fat free and Greek Style ranges and significant product expansion, including a new desserts range and the luxurious Müller de Luxe Corner, plus Cadbury Pots of Joy - a range of Cadbury desserts made with real chocolate.

What’s hot?

Kepak’s Armstrong says hot, quick food is an emerging category within chilled. Kepak is targeting the chiller for its Hot, Quick and Tasty products, including the Rustlers and Zugo’s Deli café brands. Armstrong says they appeal to those people for whom ready meals just aren’t fast enough. “Sometimes people want a ready meal, but need it very quickly rather than waiting 15 minutes. Convenience is the perfect fit for them.”

Also chasing those hot chilled sales is Taste Inc, with a range of baguette snacks using quality ingredients such as 100% chicken breast and combining flavours such as piri piri chicken and chicken & chorizo. All products in the range contain less than 500 calories.

Kerry Fresh’s Tyler predicts further expansion in the marketplace as the opportunity it presents is realised. “At the moment, no one owns the chilled space within convenience so there’s a lot of opportunity still to be had,” he points out.

Ones to watch

Rice and easy

Müller Rice underwent a relaunch this year with new packaging and a recipe using 20% more fruit. The range will also feature limited editions throughout the year. Flavours include vanilla custard, banana & smooth toffee, maple syrup and apple strudel sauce.

rrp: 69p

tel: 01630 692000

Weather with you

With the summer grudgingly making an appearance, Wall’s has teamed up with the Weather Channel to run an on-pack promotion to ‘Win the Weather’. Consumers can win various sums, the amount depending on the weather, with hotter temperatures garnering more money.

tel: 0800 121 4688

Summer living

Spar has revamped its chilled Summertime range. New additions include three bean salad, couscous salad and pasta, pine nut and spinach salad, and a range of dips. Fresh chicken labels have also been designed to display a higher welfare standards stamp along with the Red Tractor logo.

tel: 020 842 63700

Ice, ice baby

Coco Café combines the flavour of the month, coconut water, with ready to drink chilled coffee. It’s available in two blends - Original and Mocha. The drink first hit the market last year and brings together the energising and hydrating elements of coconut water with espresso coffee.

tel: 020 7183 7312

Mellow yellow

The Laughing Cow has introduced another new flavour to its triangle range: Light with Emmental triangles. The launch aims to tap into consumers looking for real cheese flavours, but with healthier, lower fat options. It joins Laughing Cow Light with Blue cheese.

rrp: £1.25

tel: 0333 900 2024