The role and relevance of soup is explored in Eastern Europe where this product is largely influenced by long-standing traditions and local cuisines. Poland’s key focus is examined on top of taking the most important economic factors into consideration. The most notable product and segment developments are highlighted within the marketplace where competition is highly consolidated but is getting more fierce as soup continues to expand and diversify.
The moderate historic growth of soup in Eastern Europe was heavily affected by the Ukrainian crisis, greatly influencing its trajectory. Thriving economies of most countries and rising interest, mainly in Romania and Poland, counterbalanced the decline until customer behaviour and manufacturer activities have started to become more influential than economic factors.
The breakdown of soup may look homogenous at first with dehydrated and instant products being the most popular in almost every country, but there are multiple signs of divergence. These goods continue to rise swiftly in Romania, but in Hungary chilled soup gets the spotlight while alternatives for packaged soup are preferred in Slovakia - to a name a few ongoing developments.
The Polish market is of key importance in the region, in part due to its size but also due to the ongoing structural changes in soup. Interest in chilled soup - and to some extent for frozen soup - is growing rapidly, while the mature instant and dehydrated products are falling out of favour.
Over the historic period, more than half of the market share was owned by the top five companies, but more importantly, Nestlé and Unilever still own 47% of it in 2019. Despite marketing, distribution and brand management efforts, these companies were losing share to local rivals that are offering cheaper or innovative products.
As health and convenience trends collide, soup products that are able to satisfy both needs are expected to prevail and keep on growing, but only if the traditional local flavours are kept intact to suit the specific needs of those Eastern European customers who cherish soup and the traditions that come with it.
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