Onions were the top performing product in 2004 in terms of on-shelf availability, with total availability in three out of four quarters, according to a survey.

ECR UK (Efficient Consumer Response), an initiative led by the directors of leading retailers and manufacturers and managed by food and grocery think tank IGD, surveyed 200 products in the fourth quarter.

Of the 200 products surveyed, 25 achieved 99% availability, 122 scored between 95 and 99%, 43 from 90 to 95% and 10 below 90%.

The survey, taken at the busiest trading period of the year, shows that total availability for the quarter was 96.3%, just above the average for the year. The range of retailer performance narrowed with the best performing retailer achieving 97.2%, and the worst performing 95%.  In terms of the manufacturers the best performance was 99.8% and the worst was 57.1%.

A new measure in the final quarter found that the best day in terms of on-shelf availability is Saturday (97%) and the worst is Tuesday (96%).

“At the end of the first year of the survey the overall trend is that we are getting better at on-shelf availability as an industry. We have seen a consistent performance in standard product availability and the gap between best and worst has narrowed. We hope that this picture will continue through 2005 and that we can address the seasonal issues,” said Chris Tyas, supply chain director of Nestlé and co-chair of the ECR UK Availability Workgroup.