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Sales of consumer goods, including grocery and healthcare items, rose modestly in Western Europe last year, according to the “Western Europe FMCG Report, Q4 2016” from Nielsen. But sales value growth was notable.
The volume of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sales across nine countries—Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and the UK—in 2016 was only 0.1% greater than in the previous year. But sales value rose by 0.9%, equivalent to €4.3 billion ($4.8 billion), due chiefly to higher unit prices.
In total, the market for FMCG products in the nine countries was valued at €499 billion in 2016.
All nine of those markets saw growth in value. Spain and Portugal posted the highest percentage gains during the year, at 2.8% and 1.9%, respectively. But 41% of the total increase reported by Nielsen came from the already large markets of France and Germany.
Healthcare sales climbed 2.5%—the largest gain in any single product category. Confectionery and snack sales value increased 1.9%, while alcoholic beverage sales rose 1.8%. Fresh food also registered a significant jump, as sales were 1.4% higher than in 2015. Overall, 60% of sales growth in the nine nations was traced to fresh food items, snacks and sweets.
Promotions were a big part of many FMCG brands’ strategies in 2016, Nielsen found. And across eight of the countries in the study (not including the UK), promotions accounted for more than 50% of annual growth, or €2.2 billion ($2.4 billion).
Another insight was that sales growth didn’t benefit the top 10 manufacturers in the sector, such as Nestlé, Unilever and Procter & Gamble. Instead, private-label manufacturers fueled over 70% of the increase.
—Karin von Abrams
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