Coles is thinly slicing off an ever bigger share of the $4.7 billion annual Australian delicatessen market, but Woolworths remains Australia’s number one retailer for fine food delicacies, the latest retail data from Roy Morgan shows.

Over the last five years, Roy Morgan Research has surveyed over 72,000 grocery buyers (14+) — half of whom had made a recent purchase from a deli aisle or counter.

In the 12 months to March 2015, 6.7 million Australian grocery buyers together spent around $91m on delicatessen items in an average seven days, up from 6.4 million weekly shoppers (and $73m spent) four years ago.

Woolworths retains the largest share of the market, with 43.0% of deli shoppers now buying at least some of their week’s supply of deli goods there, down marginally from 44.1% in 2011. But rival Coles has been making steady gains, halving the gap from 12.6% points to 6.3% over the period.

Coles now supplies deli items to 36.7% of deli shoppers, up from 31.5% in 2011.

Coles deli Concord NSW

IGAs and delicatessens have also lost a bit of ground. While 840,000 grocery buyers bought deli items at an IGA in the last week, representing 12.5% of deli shoppers (down from 13.4% in 2011), 540,000 shopped at a dedicated, stand-alone deli (8.1%, down from 9.0%). Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2010 – March 2015.

Andrew Price, general manager Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, said: “Over the last five years, only Coles has made any headway in the all-important delicatessen market. The proportion of grocery buyers who buy deli goods in an average week has remained steady at around 50% since 2011—which means competition, not market growth, is the only way to gain shoppers.

“The deli is also a vital battleground for Coles and Woolworths as it’s an arena where no-frills discount players like Aldi (and soon Lidl)—with minimal staff and no deli counter—don’t compete in the same way.”

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