Poultry allegations have little impact on retail sales

Recent allegations against poultry processor 2 Sisters Food Group have not had a major negative impact on retail sales. 

According to the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, for the 12 weeks to 8 October 2017, fresh poultry sales remained flat in September, while chilled processed poultry has increased in value by 6%.

The allegations stemmed from a Guardian and ITV undercover report at the 2 Sisters plant in West Bromwich, which claimed that returned chicken portions were repackaged and resent out; produce that had dropped on the floor had been returned to the production line; slaughter dates had been altered by staff; and batches of chicken with different dates had been mixed together.

The plant has temporarily suspended operations, with major retailers and the Food Standards Agency conducting separate investigations.

Overall, the Kantar Worldpanel data showed that supermarket sales had increased in value by 3.1% compared with last year. This marks the 17th period of growth in a row for Britain’s grocers. Like-for-like grocery inflation remained at 3.2%, but a slowdown in price rises is expected for the new year, with the rate projected to fall below 2% in the first quarter of 2018.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Morrisons was the fastest-growing of the large supermarkets this period, increasing sales by 2.8%. The biggest wins came from frozen foods and healthcare products – frozen fish rose by 19%, while vitamins and supplement sales were up 23% as consumers bedded in for winter. Growing sales at Morrisons’ bricks-and-mortar stores were supplemented by rapid expansion on its e-commerce platform, particularly in London and the south where online sales have risen 29%. Despite the growth, however, the retailer’s overall market share fell by 0.1 percentage points to 10.3%.”

Tesco’s sales grew by 2.1% though share was down 0.3 percentage points to 27.9%. Asda, meanwhile, has sustained its recent recovery, with sales up 1.8% in the past 12 weeks.

Sales at Sainsbury’s increased 1.9% on last year, while market share now stands at 15.8%, down 0.2 percentage points.

Lidl remained Britain’s fastest-growing supermarket, up by 16%, while Aldi grew by 13.4%. Share increased for both retailers by 0.6 percentage points, up to 5.2% of the market for Lidl and 6.8% for Aldi.

Waitrose’s sales increased by 2.3% though in contrast share fell by 0.1% to 5.3%. At Co-op, sales fell back by 2.5% and market share fell to 6.2%, a drop of 0.3 percentage points. Iceland’s sales grew by 2.6%.

Online sales growth has slowed to 6.7% from a recent high of 21.9% in October 2014. Ocado’s sales increase of 8.7% meant it continued to win share of the online market.

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