Irish consumers are buying fewer groceries in a response to food price inflation, according to the latest Kantar Worldpanel numbers.

Irish shoppers cut back the volume of products they purchased by 4% in the quarter ended 20 March, while sales growth slowed to 0.8% compared to 1.6% last month.

Kantar Worldpanel Ireland spokesperson David Berry said today (11 April) the “biggest impact” of the cutbacks were felt in the fresh and chilled sector, with the average household buying 4.7% fewer fresh or chilled products than three months ago. “This shift towards reduced basket size demonstrates that consumers are cutting back where they can”.

Berry said that shoppers are also continuing to trade down to cheaper products, with own-brand products now accounting for 35% of grocery spend, compared with only 33.5% last year.

He added that value conscious shoppers continued to switch more of their grocery spend to the German discounters, with Aldi growing its share to 4% compared to 3.2% a year ago, and Lidl increasing its share from 5.6% in 2010 to 5.9%.

However, Musgrave-owned Supervalu reported a slight drop in market share, falling from 20.1% to 19.8% in the past 12 months, while Dunnes Stores “continued to perform behind the market. Kantar Worldpanel said that following a “prolonged decline throughout 2010”, sales stabilised over the past month, as it retained its 23.3% market share from last month.

Food price inflation remained stable at 5.3% against the previous month.