New research from IRI has shown that the petrol channel remained stagnant this year across both the MAT and summer quarter.

COVID-19 dominated much of 2020 adversely impacting the petrol channel with consumers opting to shop large format stores. Consumer mobility was restricted, and more people worked from home, resulting in fewer commutes and trips to the channel.

Summer is generally a critical time of year for the petrol channel accounting for 27% of yearly sales, however, sales this year were stagnant with only +0.8% growth on last year, closely mimicking MAT growth of +0.9% (MAT to 28.02.21).

It’s important to note that the summer 2021 period included Christmas and New Years Eve, with the Christmas week accounting for driving 59% of the season’s overall growth.

The period also included two Auckland level three lockdowns, and Pravina Patel, Insights Consultant, Solutions & Innovation at IRI, said that COVID-19 lockdowns have shown to have an adverse impact on the petrol channel.

Patel says that summer was largely a season of refreshments, eating and indulgence, with growth led by ice cream, bread, personal care, and household items compared to summer 2020.

“Kiwis spent more on beverages, ice cream and snackfoods this year, helping these categories gain share of edibles,” she said.

Ice cream sales accelerated over the period, growing +2% versus a decline of -0.7% last year. The ice cream category saw units contract and volume increase over summer, indicating that consumers are purchasing larger pack sizes.

The top two take home ice cream NPD to be launched over summer were Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough S’Wich Up and Ben & Jerry’s Punch Line.

“Innovation and larger pack formats are driving value in ice cream. ‘Take home’ ice cream grew a massive +65.0% on last summer with NPD driving almost 90% of the growth realised this summer,” says Patel.

Food categories became more significant to the channel over summer, representing 37.5% of total sales (+2.6pts above MAT share) and achieving two-thirds of overall growth.

Food dollar growth achieved this summer was primarily driven by the ready to drink (RTD) category, which realised an additional $3.0m in sales.

The RTD category growth softened this summer to +4.8% from +5.6% growth in the prior year but there was an improvement on the MAT decline.

“The on-the-go channel saw the RTD category picking up share of ‘stomach’ this summer driven by hot drinks and energy drinks.”

Hot drinks delivered an additional +$1.7 million in sales compared to last year and energy drinks delivered an additional +$1.1 million in sales. Volume also grew positively at +5.9% and +6.0% respectively.

NPD in chips launched this year accounted for 10.4% of sales and delivered more than 100% of chips dollar growth. Four of the top five NPD in chips launched over the summer came from Bluebird.

“Snacking is an essential part of summer, with innovation and premiumisation driving value gains this year. The chips segment is a key driver of category growth (+10.0% on YA). Again, NPD launched within the past year is driving segment growth,” says Patel.

Medicinal saw significant share gains of non-food spend this summer (+3.2pts), with petrol stations becoming a one-stop shop in an accessible location.

Triple digit growth and share gains for the medicinal category were driven by nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), while the personal care and household categories saw the decline from the previous year reverse this summer.

“NRT sales continue to see an upward trend in sales. Over summer the segment delivered an additional +$7.6 million compared to last year, helping the medicinal category lift share from tobacco (-1.5pts) and gain a total +3.2pts of non-food spend.”

Source: IRI Summary of Petrol Channel Performance – Summer 2021 (13wks to 28.02.21)

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