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Competitor Strategies in Staple Foods

July 2022

Staple foods remains a highly fragmented industry worldwide. The top players are losing market share as smaller brands innovate in plant-based, healthy alternatives, and private label improves in quality. Some leading companies will benefit from their existing portfolios due to shifts in eating occasions; however, they need to follow ongoing trends to retain or gain share. Growth for the leaders is currently coming mainly from expansion in emerging markets, as well as mergers and acquisitions.

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Key findings

Highly fragmented market

Staple foods remains a highly fragmented market worldwide, and is becoming even more so. Top players are losing share to smaller brands that focus on sustainability and health trends, and to private label, which offers appealing prices in an era of high price sensitivity. The top players are deriving growth from market momentum, aided by pandemic stockpiling and (lasting) habits, mergers and acquisitions, and expansion in emerging markets.

Health and wellness at the core

Due to the pandemic-induced concern over improving health, consumers have actively sought out healthier staple foods. Introducing healthy variants of well-established existing item, or launching novel products, is a route to success, with opportunities in targeting children and the elderly population. The focus is on reduced salt, sugar, and fat content, with brands like Kellogg and Barilla putting this at the forefront of their new product development.

Plant-based alternatives remain an important avenue of growth

Growth in the number of vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian consumers, increasing concern with the meat industry’s impact on the environment, and manufacturers’ need to set their products apart from those of competitors are creating a greater emphasis on plant-based alternatives. For many brands, this is an opportunity to battle stagnant or declining markets and to break into new product categories. Companies such as WH Group and Kraft Heinz recognise the potential here and are actively introducing plant-based products to their portfolios.

Technology and innovation are important for agile business

The COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for convenience, and brands are seeking ways to get closer to the consumer. The habit of shopping through the e-commerce channel, which many consumers acquired during the pandemic, is here to stay – especially in shelf stable foods. Investing in data, technologies and agile approaches to optimise business will help determine effective marketing strategies and reduce the risk of supply chain bottlenecks.

Scope
Key findings
Leading companies in staple foods
Most top players depend heavily on staple foods
Difficult to retain shares in increasingly fragmented market
Sales orientated towards developed markets, except for regional powerhouses
Market fragmentation evident in share of active categories
Top players depend heavily on top brands
Fastest growing categories globally
Grupo Bimbo focuses on healthy and sustainability trends
Shift towards remote working is benefiting Yamazaki Baking
WH Group bets on plant-based food and Eastern Europe
General Mills focus on at home-baking and market momentum in breakfast cereals
Kraft Heinz Co behind de-premiumisation of plant-based food
Kellogg Co emphasises health in cereals
Barilla Holdings gains through market momentum, acquisitions and innovations
Key opportunities for main players
Barilla expected to move up over the forecast
Conclusion
Projected company sales: FAQs (1)
Projected company sales: FAQs (2)

Staple Foods

NOTE: Couscous, polenta and quinoa are excluded from staple foods.

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