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Marmite sales boosted by Tesco price dispute

By James Ridler+

26-Oct-2016
Last updated on 26-Oct-2016 at 10:03 GMT2016-10-26T10:03:41Z

Marmite sales grew as a result of publicity created during the Tesco and Unilever pricing dispute
Marmite sales grew as a result of publicity created during the Tesco and Unilever pricing dispute

Marmite sales were boosted by £335,000 this month, thanks to publicity created during a high profile dispute between UK retailer Tesco and manufacturer Unilever over pricing.

The publicity caused by the dispute, which saw the iconic British spread withdrawn from Tesco’s website, boosted Marmite’s sales by 61% compared with the same time last year.

The attention garnered meant retailers sold 129,000 more jars of Marmite than on average – a 60% increase in sales volumes – claimed city analyst IRI.

Data was collected from nine supermarkets for the week ending October 15 2016, including Tesco’s biggest rivals Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons.

Increase in sales was unusual

IRI’s head of strategic insight for retail Martin Wood said such a large increase in sales was unusual.

“It’s higher than we’d usually see after major TV advertising campaigns but less than we’d expect if people are panic buying,” said Wood.

“The publicity clearly made Marmite top of mind for regular buyers. Marmite is one of those irreplaceable brands that is as much loved as it is hated and last week [ending October 15] shoppers were showing how much they loved it.”

The attempted rise in Unilever’s prices with Tesco was in response the falling value of the pound, which finance chief Graeme Pitkethly described as a normal response to shifts in currency.

Exploiting the uncertainty

However, union GMB said it was concerned Unilever was exploiting the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. The loss of supermarket contracts could cause workers and shoppers to suffer the consequences of putting up prices.

GMB national officer for the food industry Eamon O’Hearn said it was common for suppliers and retailers to renegotiate supply contracts.

“But super-rich companies like Unilever must not be allowed to exploit the government’s chaotic handling of Brexit as an excuse for making workers and shoppers pay the price,” said O’Hearn.

Meanwhile, sales of baking ingredients have grown by £12.5M a month, thanks to consumer’s growing interest in the past-time after watching The Great British Bake Off.

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