25 Jan, 2024

Aisles of Innovation: The Top Trends Shaping January’s Food Retail Landscape

Retail price reductions is the main news in retail trends, writes our Food Business Consultant, Stephanie Walsh, and our Food and Agribusiness Associate, Aisling Donnellan. In the first week of the new year Lidl announced it was cutting prices on more than 600 items claiming reductions of up to 35% across a wide range of products. This followed Aldi’s announcement that it was reducing prices by up to 23%. In store, this is particularly evident in discounter’s own label.

There are a variety of innovative new product launches across private label as well as from well-known brands such as Danone and VitHit. The perennially popular January trends of high protein, and healthy eating are still present this year, with strong promotional activity across all retailers in these categories. Vegan and veggie alternatives are present but less pronounced than other years.

Promotional Activity

There is a trend towards multibuy offers in all retailers, this is evident in brands and in retailer’s own brands. We see multibuys spanning across veggie, high protein and low calorie products, enticing customers to buy more and increase their spend. Examples of this in the market is 3 for 2 on Rudd’s plant based bacon rashers in Dunnes Stores. Lidl protein puddings come in three flavours – chocolate, toffee and vanilla – are on offer at 4 for €4 (€1.25 each).

Price reduction is still being used in the market. Price reductions can be seen in meat alternatives, with Clonakilty veggie sausages on offer for €3 (down from €3.50) as well as their veggie pudding for €2.25 (reduced from €2.75). In Tesco there is strong promotional activity on their clubcard scheme across the protein category as well as on veggie and vegan products. There are also clubcard offers on low calorie ice cream (Halo Top is on offer for €4.75, down from €6.49, with a club card).

Promotional activity is used to drive footfall in a category. As a food producer, it is important to track promotional activity among competitors in your category to gain an understanding of the promotional landscape.

Top Tips:

  • Look right and left of your category as there could be innovative ways to promote your product.

  • Discuss getting on loyalty schemes such as Tesco clubcard with your buyer.

Consider whether you need to reassess your promotional activity based on the market to drive frequency, footfall and value in your product range.

Vegetarian and vegan alternatives

There is less noise around Veganuary this year but there is increasing innovation in the vegetarian, vegan and meat alternative space in general.

New products in Aldi under their Plant Menu brand include marinated tofu in onion and chilli flavours (€1.49) and ‘no ham’ and ‘no chicken’ slices (€1.99).

The presence of vegetarian and vegan ranges in store is marked by gondola heads, the shelf fixtures at the end of a supermarket aisle, as well as a full bay or section of a fridge dedicated to veggie and vegan alternatives.

Protein Innovation in the protein category is coming in the form of high protein versions of staple foods. Eatlean, the British brand of high protein cheese, is new in Aldi and Tesco. There are 3 cheese products in the Eatlean range, grated, sliced and a block of cheese. Dunnes Stores have a high protein cheese block in their range which is Irish but there is definitely opportunity for innovation in this space from an Irish supplier.

Velo coffee roasters from county Cork, added a new protein coffee to their range, combining ground coffee from 100% arabica beans with whey protein. The product is available in Tesco and Dunnes Stores.

In Aldi, protein porridge pots in caramelised biscuit and banoffee flavours are new in their Harvest Morn range. We also see the influence of social media trends on platforms such as TikTok on retail shelves. Recipes for overnight oats with Biscoff spread going viral on social media altering consumer behaviour and coming through in the flavours of products on shelf.

Protein indulgence is another trend in the category. Aldi have a new a protein brownie in their Dessert Menu range, retailing at €1.49 and boasting 19g of protein per pack Lidl have launched a new high protein rice pudding in vanilla, banana, chocolate and original flavours. Containing 15g of protein per 200g pot, they retail for €1.25. They have also launched a high protein chocolate and vanilla swirl pudding for 99c.

High protein convenience meals have a big presence in Dunnes, Aldi and Lidl.

Aldi have several new products in the category. NutriPower, specially produced for Aldi, includes turkey bolognese, chicken massaman, Korean bbq chicken and chicken tikka masala. Lidl’s range of chef select high protein ready meals include Thai sweet chilli chicken, chicken pad Thai and curry retail for €3.99. In Dunnes Stores, Fit Foods ready meals are on promotion, mix & match 2 for €8.50.

The protein category has grown considerably over the last number of years and is a trend not just for January. If you are a food producer thinking of creating a protein product, consider these steps:

  • Evaluate Your Current Range: producers should review their current range and decide if a protein range can be added.

  • Draw Inspiration: looking left and right of their categories will give inspiration for flavours. For example, protein bars had a mint flavour and now this is filtering through to desserts.

  • Benchmark Protein Content: benchmarking what protein content is acceptable/accepted.

  • Innovate and Disrupt: can you bring innovation and interrupt in sleeping category?

Innovation and New-In

Marks and Spencer have launched a new health shot in collaboration with ZOE, a pioneering personalised nutrition company. The M&S Food X ZOE Gut Shot is kefir-based and contains “over 5 billion live cultures from 14 different strains”. High in fibre, it is being marketed as a daily shot designed to “kick-start your morning”.

Danone have launched GetPRO, their new high-protein range. The range includes high-protein yogurts, mousses, puddings and fresh and long-life drinks. The range is available in Dunnes and Tesco. VitHit have launched a kids range of their popular vitamin drinks, targeting younger drinks consumers.

A new product in Aldi is the buffalo milk yogurt from Cork-based Macroom Buffalo. The gut health trend is also present here with “live culture strains” called out on front of pack. It is retailing at €1.99 for a 250g pot.

Another innovative corner of the dairy category is low calorie ice cream which is growing, particularly in own brand. Aldi have introduced new low calorie ice cream sticks, available in salted caramel, chocolate and peanut (3 x 90ml for €2.99). Their range of low calorie ice cream tubs includes cookie dough, salted caramel and chocolate brownie flavours. Lidl also have an own-brand range of low calorie ice cream (€2.89), produced in Ireland.

The own brand offerings are much cheaper than the branded equivalents available in other retailers such as Tesco, for example Halo Top retails at €6.49 and Oppo retails for €6.59. You can see why there is such investment from discounters in cheaper own brand ranges that match on quality. Prices are very attractive to consumers and can help drive sales volume for discounters.

*Prices last checked 09/01/24