Biggest brands: Top 20 brand categories 2008

Frozen foods were a growth area during 2008
Frozen foods were a growth area during 2008

Health, environmental and budget concerns have all driven shifts in consumer spending patterns.

Leaving aside the effect of price inflation, some interesting trends emerge in the performance of different grocery categories. The only sector to lose sales at a total grocery level was soft drinks, although it remained static at a branded level. While this was largely the result of the poor summer in 2007, Ed Garner, communications director at TNS Worldpanel, suggests that certain sectors within the category - notably squash and carbonated drinks - are in terminal decline. Pure juices and smoothies will keep an eye on this trend and a backlash against bottled-water brands, which are becoming more widely perceived as environmentally unfriendly.

Two sectors made a surprising comeback this year. Frozen food returned to growth after several years in the doldrums, largely as a result of rising awareness of the 'healthier' qualities of frozen vegetables and fish, in particular. Chilled convenience remains the fourth-biggest category, but its growth has slowed - partly because of the perceived health benefits of frozen over chilled, and partly due to the revival of 'real' cooking.

Canned goods' 7% growth, meanwhile, demonstrates that 'cans are still one of the most convenient forms of packaging', says Garner.

As the credit crunch and food price-rises grind on, own-label products are no longer being viewed with suspicion by consumers, and competition is hotting up among retailers for their share of own-label spend. This month Asda and Tesco have launched new value ranges in response to the growing popularity of Aldi.

The discount retailer has experienced impressive growth, with an increasing number of consumers trying it out. Both it and discount rival Lidl also benefited from the collapse of Kwik Save last summer.

Sainsbury's Basics rose 23% on the back of consumers' increased price sensitivity, while Iceland's 13% growth has stemmed from its discounted prices, strength in the frozen sector and high-street locations.

Even Waitrose, often perceived as the preserve of 'posh shoppers', will launch what is, in effect, a value range in the new year, tapping into the trend for shopping across the spectrum of price categories.

There are signs that consumers who are 'trading down' are driving sales of own-label products. Asda's Extra Special range is growing fast - up 46% to nearly £155m last year.

Biggest Brand report 2008 Online:

Biggest brands: Top 50 grocery brands by sales 2008

Biggest Brands: Top 20 Brand categories 2008

Biggest Brands: Top 10 brands by product category 

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