European shoppers have already coped with rocketing food prices and empty shelves and now new research from Mintel shows they have a smaller share of new food and drink products to choose from.
According to Mintel GNPD (Global New Products Database) for the UK, the share of retail food and drink launches which are entirely new products (eg as opposed to new flavours, new packaging etc) has slumped to just 16% of all launches in the year to September 2023, down from 33% of all launches in the year to September 2014. The picture is similar across Europe (including the UK), where the share of genuine new food and drink launches has slumped to 26% from 42% over the same period.
Meanwhile, the share of UK launches which are packaging redesigns has jumped from 20% to 31%, and the share of relaunches has increased from 4% to 10%. European manufacturers are choosing to relaunch existing products with new package designs too - these account for over a quarter (27%) of European food and drink launches, up from one in seven (15%) in 2013.
Overall, the type of food and drink launches which arrive on shelves are mostly likely to be new varieties of existing products, or range extensions, rather than genuine new food and drink products.
For consumers, this decline in actual new products in stores is disappointing news, as more than a third of UK (37%), Italian (35%) and Spanish (34%) shoppers look out for new foods/flavours all or most of the time. This illustrates the joy and satisfaction many consumers feel when discovering a new food or drink product on shelf.
Crumbs of comfort in long term?
Mintel Director of food and drink, Alex Beckett, explained that the decline in new food and drink launches was a symptom of the challenges manufacturers were experiencing.
“Faced with soaring energy and ingredient costs, and labour shortages, manufacturers have had no choice but to focus on the bottom line and, to some extent, this has come at the cost of R&D and maintaining a busy innovation pipeline.
“For shoppers, this is tough, as much as shopping can be a chore, there is a thrill to discovering a new idea on the shelf or chiller. Especially now with things so challenging, people appreciate originality. However, they also appreciate affordability, and that’s what manufacturers and retailers are trying to prioritise.
“Fortunately, there are signs that food inflation costs will ease over the next few months.”