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Panel SA: Consumer exchanges butter for margarine and wants cheap brand in inflation


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The radar of companies that monitor the supply chain has been capturing new changes, caused by inflation, in supermarket supply and in consumer behavior.

The February scenario showed supermarkets with less variety on shelves and more popular products, according to Neogrid, a retail software company.

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According to Robson Munhoz, director at Neogrid, the reduction in the assortment is an attempt by the industry and retail to adapt to the drop in the customer’s purchasing power. They reduce the so-called mix of brands and, thus, the most expensive ones disappear from the shelves.

Sales improved in February, according to the company, but with a different profile: demand is for cheaper products. And when the consumer finds an offer, he is buying larger volume. The behavior is typical of inflationary periods.

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Milk was one of the categories with the lowest assortment in February, and the consequent sale of cheaper items, according to Neogrid.

Another product that draws attention is margarine, as opposed to butter, according to Horus, a market intelligence company whose research is based on invoices.

In February, there was a retraction in the incidence of butter in carts compared to January. The presence of the product in purchase coupons dropped from 3.3% to 3%, while the incidence of margarine rose.

“Although the increase in the average price of margarine has been higher than that of butter in the last 12 months (36% versus 9%), margarine still has a greater presence in the cart, as its average price per kilo is lower than that of butter (R$ 15 versus R$50), being, therefore, a more economical option”, analyzes the company.

Another change from the traditional consumption habit in times of tightness is the purchase of yogurts, a product that is usually treated as an indulgence, that is, an affordable premium offered to the consumer for reducing other expenses.

For now, yogurt is making its way into the carts more, perhaps with that indulgence meaning. According to Horus data, the average incidence on invoices rose from 7.3% between January and February 2021 to more than 8% in the first two months of this year.

The oil goes in the same vein. However, with prices on the rise, retailers seem to have reduced supplies for fear of falling demand, according to Horus. In February, olive oil showed an increase of more than 2% in the so-called stockout index, which measures the availability of goods on shelves.

Joana Cunha with Andressa Motter and Ana Paula Branco

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