Woolies ahead in fresh battle as Coles loses share

Woolworths WarringahWoolworths has continued its run as the dominate player in Australia’s fresh fruit-and-veg market in the first three months of 2018 as the major supermarkets step up their efforts to capture share from independents.

New research from Roy Morgan examining market share in Australia’s increasingly competitive fresh category found that Woolies has increased its fruit and veg share by 1.3 per cent from April 2017 – March 2018, while rival Coles has lost 0.7 per cent of the market.

Woolworths had 27.4 per cent of the market at the end of March, compared to Coles’ 23.9 per cent, Roy Morgan said.

The two majors controlled more than 51 per cent of the overall fruit and veg market at the end of March amid ongoing efforts to improve quality, service and price as shoppers move away from cold grocery and towards the fresh aisle.

German entrant Aldi, which has been prioritising fresh food in a refurbishment of its Australian fleet, had 10.1 per cent of the fresh fruit and veg market by the end of March, up 0.6 per cent in the year from last April.

The discounter is quickly approaching the 15.8 per cent threshold that would see it eclipse independent fruit shops.

Overall independents still control 48.7 per cent of the market, but that figure is expected to continue to shrink in the coming years as the larger chains increasingly realise their potential in the category.

Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said the findings match other recent studies into fresh meat, fish and bread – where in all cases Coles, Woolworths and Aldi were aggressively seeking expansion.

“In recent years the big two have been moving to consolidate their market shares in various fresh food markets including fresh fruit & veg, fresh meat, fresh bread, fresh deli and fresh seafood,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that supermarkets are increasing market share as many Australians buy at least some of their fruit and veg at a supermarket, even if they also buy some at a market or fruit shop.

“56% of Australians who purchased fresh fruit or vegetables from a fruit shop also purchased fruit or vegetables from a supermarket in an average seven days,” she said.

Roy Morgan’s report encompassed 15,067 Australians that had purchased fruit or vegetables in the last seven days and we’re aged over 14.

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