The category presented a negative performance in 2018, with the worst results posted by margarine and spreads and by cooking fats. Sales of butter and spreads were affected by consumers’ concerns with regard to cutting down their fat consumption, switching to healthier non-fat alternatives.
With a less negative performance than cooking fats in 2018, margarine and spreads also registered a sales decline as consumers associated these products with being industrialised and processed. As a result, consumers were switching to other alternatives such as soft cheese and butter, which have a more positive image in terms of their naturalness.
After some years of decline due to its negative association with high fat levels, butter posted a less negative performance in 2018 when compared with other categories within butter and spreads. The fact that consumers increasingly perceived butter as more natural and less processed when compared with margarine supported this step towards recovery.
Despite leading the category of butter and spreads in 2018, the decline in consumption of margarine and spreads negatively affected sales of Unilever Jerónimo Martins, in particular for its brand Vaqueiro, but also for Planta and Becel. Becel pro activ also recorded a decline in sales in 2018, which could be related to the growing health trend, as consumers abandoned poor eating habits and purchased specific food that was claimed to help with cholesterol or blood pressure issues.
One of the most significant developments within margarine and spreads in 2017/2018 was the increase in value share for private label. The entry of Pingo Doce, an exclusive line, contributed to private label’s increased share.
With significant growth of small and medium supermarkets, particularly in city centres, consumers are transferring their bigger hypermarket purchases to smaller and more-convenient-sized retailers. The portfolio of products available to consumers is necessarily different due to space limitations, favouring both private label and leading major brands.
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