Staples Overview: Exploring Possibilities for Growth in Rice, Pasta and Noodles

December 2016

Staples is geographically divided into highly saturated markets and highly unsaturated ones. In highly saturated markets, some consumers are shifting from consuming staples, but this provides significant opportunities for manufacturers to target smaller, higher spend audiences that prioritise quality. Staples need to be at the back of the cupboard but at the front of consumers’ minds. Elsewhere, population growth is likely to be the key proponent of increased consumption of staples.

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Many core markets for staples are saturated, and international manufacturers will need to move to a focus on value growth

The average Italian consumes 25.4 kg of pasta each year. If each person sticks to the standard 100g measurement, then Italians consume 253 meals of pasta a year – more than two every three days. Volume consumption of staples is largely saturated in Western markets – and could be falling out of fashion – but is making steady progress elsewhere, as more consumers begin to purchase packaged – rather than bulk – foods.

Rapidly growing populations will drive sales increases for staples in certain markets

Given that staples are generally consumed on certain occasions, specifically meal times, there is a limit to how much volume growth can be achieved. Consequently, the vast majority of volume growth between 2016 and 2021 is expected to occur in those countries with significant population growth – particularly within Asia Pacific, and the Middle East and Africa. It will be important for manufacturers to maximise their distribution capacity by working with local partners if they are to capitalise on growth in these regions.

Promoting staples as high quality, healthy and convenient will tap into consumers who spend more on packaged food

In those markets where staples are likely to continue to see stagnant per capita volume consumption, focusing on achieving value growth by targeting high-spending consumers seems the most sensible option. This could be achieved either by leveraging the increased penchant for “perimeter shopping” or via ecommerce meal kits, which tend to attract wealthier consumers.


Key findings

Global Overview

Rice and noodles dominate consumption in largest staples markets
Western markets better represented in value terms
Yet pasta highlights market saturation in many Western market
Private label holds a strong position in West
Commodity prices fluctuate, but consumers unlikely to notice
Globalisation of cuisines and carb alternatives could threaten sales
Gluten-free – a storm in pasta’s teacup?


Opportunities await in Malaysia and much of Middle East and Africa
Space for international manufacturers expanded by scandals
There are many opportunities worldwide for pasta expansion
Population the main driver of growth around the world
Lack of population growth compromises dynamism in West


Pasta could benefit from polarisation of consumer habits
Staples can capitalise on perimeter shopping

Potential Strategies

Scratch and semi-scratch could drive premium sales
E-commerce meal kits have real potential for staple brands
“Back of cupboard, front of mind” could be approach for staples
Instant rice and noodles improve image in West
France successfully achieves growth through premium products
Accessing new markets by utilising microwaveable products
Teaming up with foodservice brands: A feasible alternative?
Acquisitions and partnerships to maximise distribution


Global division in strategies needed, but outlook deserves optimism

Appendix: Competitor Analytics

Competitor Analytics tool
Market Overlap
Overlap Matrices

Appendix: Industry Forecast Model

About Euromonitor International’s Industry Forecast Model
Soft drivers and the Industry Forecast Model
Growth decomposition explained
Significance and applications for growth decomposition
Key applications for Industry Forecast Models


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