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  1. Analysis
June 28, 2000

Canned Food – Main Findings

Canned food has suffered from an old-fashioned, processed image compared to alternative fresh, frozen and chilled foods. The canned food market has been characterised by rampant price discounting, with many products used

  • Canned food has suffered from an old-fashioned, processed image compared to alternative fresh, frozen and chilled foods.
  • The canned food market has been characterised by rampant price discounting, with many products used as “loss leaders”.
  • Product developments are focusing on 100% natural, low-fat/lean and organic ingredients in an attempt to respond to health concerns amongst many populations.
  • Packaging developments revolve around cartons, particularly in the soups sector, and ring-pulls for easy access to cans.
  • Vegetables form the largest sector in the majority of key markets as they constitute the basis for meals in many traditional diets.
  • The versatility and health attributes of tuna have combined with high prices caused by shortage of supply to give the fish sector a relatively high value share in most key markets.
  • The Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) scare, emanating from the UK, negatively impacted the meats sector and meat-based ready meals.
  • Soups proved to be one of the most dynamic sectors as new products were marketed as complete meals and greater confidence amongst consumers underpinned trading up.
  • Ready meals, particularly non-pasta-based varieties, offer “meal solutions” as the trend towards light meal occasions intensifies.
  • The canned food market is largely fragmented, with a number of multinational players present in each key market, although their presence tends not to extend across all sectors of the market.
  • Private label penetration is high in most key markets due to the strength of multiples and the commodity status of many canned food products.

Canned Food by Volume

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What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.
  • The US market, at 3,780,000 tonnes in 1999, was the largest of the seven key markets for canned food, approaching three times the size of the French and UK markets. In terms of per capita consumption, the popularity of canned food, particularly vegetables, in France was more evident in 1999, when the French consumed over 24kg per head, almost double that of US consumers.
  • Only two of the seven key markets recorded positive volume growth over the period 1995-1999, respectively 9% and 5% in Spain and Japan. The stagnant nature of many canned food markets is reflected in the contraction in volume terms evident over the review period, with consumption falling by some 6% in the US, the UK, France and Italy.
  • Spain was the best performing key market over the review period, with volume growth of 9%. New product development, which included the introduction of new varieties of canned food and the repackaging of established products, served to stimulate consumer interest and boost demand throughout the latter part of the 1995-1999 period. Other important factors stimulating growth included consumer trends favouring convenience products, as Spanish lifestyles became increasingly hectic and more women entered the workplace.
  • The increasing westernisation of the Japanese diet has had a significant influence on market demand. The popularity of Western types of products has been the impetus for recent launches and has afforded continued, if slow, volume growth. As more and more Japanese have travelled abroad in recent years, they have demanded similar dishes in canned form, leading to a rise in demand for canned ready meals and pre-prepared side dishes.
  • The German market for canned food was stagnant over the review period. Under increased competition from related products such as frozen food, volume sales of canned food declined by 3.5% between 1995 and 1999. Cans are one of the oldest ways of preserving food industrially, dating from a time when not all households had refrigerators or freezers. Today, frozen and chilled foods which compete against cans tend to be considered more convenient and of higher nutritional value. Hence, competition from these related markets has had a detrimental effect on sales of canned food.
  • Canned food in the US experienced a 5.6% decline in volume terms between 1995 and 1999, due chiefly to a fall in consumer demand. Rising disposable incomes in recent years have resulted in shifts in consumer preference from canned foods to, primarily, fresh foods. In essence, the heart of the problem of sluggish growth in the canned food industry is the consumer perception of canned food as old-fashioned and having commodity status. The increased availability of fresh foods at all times of the year has exacerbated this negative consumer perception.
  • As an industry based on an innovative post-war method of stabilising fresh products and affording them a greater shelf life, canned foods have continued to suffer an outdated image in the UK. The attractiveness of canned foods has been further dampened by increasing health concerns on the part of the consumer, most dramatically portrayed by the drop in sales sparked by the BSE scare of 1996. Consumers have stepped up their efforts to maintain a healthy diet and as such are increasing their consumption of chilled and fresh products, to the detriment of canned counterparts. Renewed growth in the frozen food market, a much closer substitute for canned food, has served to exacerbate the already poor image of the can.
  • The French canned food market is considered to have reached saturation, with consumers mainly buying cans as a store cupboard standby, rather than using them in everyday cooking. More recently, canned food has suffered from its “processed” or artificial image at a time when the general trend is towards traditional food, and all things natural. Canned food has thus faced increasing competition from frozen and chilled foods, which are looked upon as higher quality, fresher products.
  • The market for canned food in Italy has been lagging behind other food markets in terms of innovation. Frozen, chilled and dried food are all perceived as more modern by consumers and are characterised by a much greater degree of innovation. In addition, some dynamic segments related to canned food, such as tomato paste and passata, are excluded from this report, which adds to the negative picture.

Volume Sales of Canned Food by Country 1995-1999

‘000 tonnes 1995 1999
France 1,511 1,419
Germany 1,300 1,255
Italy 522 488
Japan 637 669
Spain 409 446
UK 1,480 1,391
US 4,003 3,780

Source: Euromonitor Market Direction

Canned Food by Sector – Volume and Value

  • Vegetables constituted the largest sector of the canned food market in volume terms in five of the seven key markets in 1999, with shares in these five markets ranging from 29.2% in the US to 63.2% in Italy. In the remaining markets, fruits formed the largest sector in Japan, with a volume share of 32.8% in 1999, and fish, a major component of the traditional Spanish diet, accounted for the largest volume share, 55.2%, in Spain in 1999.
  • Vegetables constituted the largest sector of the canned food market in value terms in four of the seven key markets, with shares ranging from 23.1% in the US to 36.9% in France in 1999. The vegetables sector is most prominent due to the presence of well-established subsectors such as tomatoes and pulses, and the use of vegetables as the base ingredients for more complex meals. The fish sector claimed first position in the remaining three key markets with market value shares ranging from 36.9% in Japan to 65.2% in Spain. The ready meals sector claimed second position in three of the seven key markets with market value shares ranging from 17.2% in the UK to 27.0% in France. The higher value share taken by both the fish and ready meals sectors reflects the added-value nature of many of the products which comprise these sectors and their higher average unit prices.
  • Within the vegetables sector, “other vegetables” which exclude both pulses and tomatoes, tend to account for the largest share of sales in both volume and particularly value terms. There are a couple of exceptions, namely Italy, where tomatoes dominate the vegetables sector due to their widespread use in traditional Italian cuisine. The UK and the US are the only key markets in which pulses outsell tomatoes, and in the latter pulses comprise the largest subsector. In the UK, pulses maintain a strong position due to the enduring popularity of baked beans, despite declines in value share as a consequence of a price-busting “beans war” in the mid-1990s.
  • The versatility and universal popularity of tuna is responsible for this type of fish dominating sales of the overall fish sector in all seven key markets. Value shares have generally increased due to demand outstripping world supply, leading to a hike in prices.
  • Segmentation within the meats sector varies across the seven key markets, with canned products leading ahead of jars in France, and hot packs comprising the larger subsector in the UK, ahead of cold packs. The scare surrounding BSE had a major impact on the meats sector in all key markets, with red meats losing out to white meats, particularly poultry.
  • Salads and cocktails lead the fruits sector in Italy and the UK, whilst citrus fruits lead in Japan, and peaches comprised the largest subsector in the US in 1999. Fruits in syrup are the larger subsector in France and the UK, although in both instances the alternative “in juice” subsector was the better performer over the review period.
  • No apparent segmentation exists in the soups sector that can be applied to all seven key markets. Thus cartons lead in France following the format’s success in other food markets, such as milk. Attempts to revitalise the Italian soups sector have also involved the introduction of carton packaging. Carton packaging forms a growing element of the soups sector in the UK, as chilled products have not emerged as a direct substitute for canned versions. Chilled soups tend to be consumed within a few days of purchase, whilst ambient products can be consumed later.
  • The ready meals sector is generally dominated by other canned ready meals ahead of pasta-based products, although in Italy fish-based products outsell all other subsectors. Traditional dishes tend to account for the bulk of ready meals, with products such as tripe with chick peas particularly popular in Spain. In the US, “other” ready meals have been promoted as “meal solutions” and have benefited from the increasingly hectic lifestyles of consumers and lack of time for home-cooking.
  • Desserts account for the bulk of the “other canned food” sector in most key markets, although in Japan and Spain, more traditional products such as omelette-style meals in Spain form the largest subsector. Cream desserts constitute the leading subsector in France and the UK, whilst both the German and Italian markets are characterised by the complete absence of an “other” canned food sector.

Volume Sales of Canned Food by Sector and by Country: % Analysis 1999

% volume
France
Germany
Italy
Japan
Spain
UK
US
Vegetables
58.8
50.4
63.2
25.0
27.3
46.7
29.2
Fish
7.7
5.8
23.6
22.2
55.2
6.4
7.2
Meats
1.6
11.9
4.5
5.3
4.6
6.8
10.2
Fruits
5.7
14.0
7.4
32.8
1.8
8.1
10.0
Soups
6.1
4.5
1.1
5.1
0.5
16.0
18.1
Ready meals
18.7
13.5
0.3
1.4
10.3
12.3
17.6
Others
1.3
8.1
0.2
3.7
7.6
TOTAL
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Source: Euromonitor Market Direction

Note: Figures may not sum due to rounding

Canned Food – Trends to Watch

  • The burgeoning popularity of fresh, chilled and frozen alternatives will have an adverse impact on demand for canned food.
  • Changing eating habits with fewer traditional meal occasions and increased eating away from the home will hit sectors of the canned food market which fail to respond and evolve.
  • New product innovation will need to focus on packaging formats for modern lifestyles and recipes with traditional aspects.
  • Continuing health concerns will underpin demand for organic products, which is likely to be met only by the major players, and those with the resources to develop sales in niche areas such as organic produce.
  • Packaging developments will revolve around cartons, in sectors such as soups, and ring-pulls in most sectors.
  • Many canned products occupy niche sectors, and therefore low demand and high prices form a significant barrier to dynamic growth.
  • Intense competition between manufacturers, and rising private label penetration will combine to keep price increases to a minimum over the forecast period.
  • The ongoing dominance of distribution by multiples and discounters will also have a negative effect on value growth, as the commodity image of canned products becomes all-pervading.

Related Companies

Free Report
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What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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