23 May, 2023

Summer 2023 Retail Trends

Our Food Business Consultant, Stephanie Walsh and Food and Agribusiness Graduate, Aisling Donnellan outline how keeping up with seasonal product trends can drive growth in your food business.

The past few weeks have seen the introduction of summer ranges in the major supermarkets. Stephanie, from her experience as a former senior buyer with Lidl, explains the crucial role seasonal categories play in grocery retail; “seasonal promotions, discounts and marketing campaigns drive consumer store visits and basket spend with holiday periods such as bank holidays usually seeing an increase in sales of certain seasonal products. Summer, for example, always sees an emphasis on barbeques, salads, and fresh fruit”. Food and drink producers should take advantage of this opportunity as retailers look to meet customer expectations and maximise sales. 

Meat and poultry are always key categories for summer as barbeque season gets underway. This year, key trends in this category include: 

Premiumisation in own brand, especially in the burger product line. Including Supervalu’s Irish Hereford Prime Gourmet Beef Burgers (€2.99) in their Signature Tastes range and Aldi’s new Black Angus Beef Burger (€3.69) and Irish Dry Aged Ribsteak Beef Burger (€3.99) in their Specially Selected range.

Koftas and Kebabs are popular in summer barbeque meat product lines across all the major supermarkets. Highlights include Aldi’s new turkey koftas in garlic & herb and smoky bbq flavour lines. Tesco also have new smoky bbq flavour lamb koftas. 

Innovative flavour influences in standard product lines allow retailers to maximise sales and margin within a specific category. This season includes Dunnes Stores Caribbean style quick fry steaks and Chimichurri chicken thighs from Lidl. Spicy Mexican and sweet chilli are flavours occurring in several products this year, as is the perennially popular bbq flavour.  

The salad category is a key one for the summer season. POS (point of sale) with all salad ingredients including leaves, sauces and salad toppers being seen in many stores. Salad pots are popular at this time of year, playing into the picnic and dining al fresco trend. Own brand ranges have particularly strong salad pot product lines. Dunnes Stores Simply Better salad pots include pasta salad with sundried tomatoes and pesto and a lime & mint mixed bean, quinoa, and kale salad. Supervalu Signature Tastes salad pots include orzo pasta salad, carrot, kale & poppy seed salad and a tabbouleh & feta salad. Lidl’s own brand convenience range Meadowfresh contains salad pot products such as sriracha pasta salad. 

The Ice Cream category comes into its own in the summer months. Ice cream stick sales are particularly popular for the seasnon. Indulgence is a trend we are seeing come through, as are salty and sweet flavour combinations. New product lines from brands include Magnum ‘Double Starchaser’ chocolate, toffee sauce & popcorn flavour and ‘Sunlover’ white chocolate, mango & coconut flavour. Own brand flavour innovations in the discounters include Aldi’s Cornish Sea Salted Caramel and White Chocolate & British Raspberry ice cream sticks from their Specially Selectedrange. Aldi also have new caramelised biscuit and toffee popcorn flavoured ice cream cones. Speculoos and caramel & cookie ice cream sticks are new products in Lidl’s Gelatelli private label ‘brand’. 

Condiments are popular in summer ranges, promoted as barbeque accompaniments and marinades. Aldi summer sauces range includes harissa sauce, chipotle ketchup and buffalo hot sauce from Specially Selected range made in Cork. At the time of writing, Dunnes Stores range of handmade dips, sauces, and relishes on offer for €3.49, reduced from €3.99 in their Simply Better range which includes Buttermilk Ranch, Cauliflower Piccalilli and Cucumber & Ginger Pickle. 

What is the relevance of these key categories and trends to you as a food and drink producer?

Opportunity: summer products are an opportunity for retailers to test new and exciting flavours in the market and retailers will be on the lookout for new product ranges that will interest and excite their customers. Test listings for seasonal products can often turn in to longer term listings. Test listings are also a great opportunity to learn how the retail works and gain experience as a retail supplier. If you are a supplier that plays into the summer category you should review your category and start creating proposals for retailers for summer 2024. 

Innovation and inspiration: If you don’t have a product line that plays into the summer category, consider if there are innovations you can make to play into the category.  Aldi’s Specially Selected macarons for example aren’t a traditional summer product but they have introduced a summer edition (€2.49) of the product with seasonal flavours such as strawberry and passion fruit. 

As a food or drink producer it is important to monitor and be aware of new flavours and trends. Go out into the market and visit stores to further your understanding of the category, what trends are out there? What innovations have been introduced to the market this year? Will these trends carry over to summer 2024? Consider how these trends could be incorporated into your product lines. Get data on summer trends if possible, from industry sources including Mintel and Kantar. 

Range Reviews: Retailers carry out range reviews in the middle of the summer to appraise product’s commercial performance in terms of sales rate, margin mix, turnover and other metrics. They also review packaging and quality of products and analyse competitor’s products to inform decision making for summer 2024. As a supplier you should contact your buyer to find out when the range review is taking place. It is the perfect timing for proposals as buyers will be considering product lines for next summer. Conduct a gap analysis in retailers, let the retailer know if they are missing an item on shelf and consider if you can fill that gap. Arrange samples of new product lines or innovations in your product range to send to buyers. 

In conclusion, the summer season offers great opportunity for food and drink producers if they align their products with the prevailing trends. By staying informed, understanding consumer preferences, and proactively engaging with retailers, producers can position themselves for success during the summer season and beyond. 

At ifac we work with a wide range of food and drink businesses from small scale producers at the beginning of their business journey to well-established, medium, and large enterprises. We specialise in a number of key areas to provide food and drink producers with the expert advice and services needed to help their business grow including helping to access funding, strategic planning, conducting product feasibility studies, financial planning and accountancy services. With 30 offices around the country, the ifac Food and Agribusiness team connects their clients with a wider team of local and national experts within the company. This approach ensures business owners always have access to the knowledge and specialist advice needed to help their business grow.