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Covid accelerated the growth of online retail and a series of large investments and takeovers will speed up these developments even more.

Size of the opportunity

The European market for groceries is worth €1.644 billion, with online groceries worth €52.1 billion. The average market share of online grocery is 3.2%. In the Netherlands, the market share of online groceries is expected to grow from 5.1% in 2021 to 9.6% in 2026, in the U.K from 10.5% in 2021 to 11.8% in 2026 and in France from 5.2 % in 2021 to 7.9% in 2026. Germany, Italy and Spain are less online oriented[1], as is the case in Sweden, where in 2020 online grocery retail only accounted for 1.5% of the market share but is expected to significantly grow to hold 3.5% by 2024[2].

At the moment the market is very fragmented with many online players fighting for space in the market.

Groceries delivered in 10 minutes

On the quick commerce front, there are now 10+ companies across Europe with more-or-less the same business model. Pure Quick commerce players such as Getir, Gorillas, Flink and Zapp, who have received large investments to expand their presence, seem to have a chance of winning the fight. Aggregators such as Just Eat or Uber Eats can easily add dark stores to their current operation enabling them to compete in this arena, the service recently launched in two more cities in Sweden bringing its operations in the country to cover seven cities. In Sweden, Foodora is also quickly ‘becoming a national grocery chain’ as it expands and opens further dark stores with the mission to deliver everything to everyone, 24/7 within 30 minutes.

Deliver all

Amazon’s delivery service for fresh groceries is also on the rise in Europe. The e-commerce giant delivers in a number of cities in the UK, France and Germany while in Spain and Italy they have started delivering to homes in Madrid and Milan. Amazon entered Sweden in 2020 however, it does not hold the same level of market share as the previously mentioned European nations. Although it has not made a large impact on the Swedish online grocery market as of yet, it is expected to see further growth but not to the same level as its other European counterparts.

Local market to your home

Recently, ICA which is Sweden’s top retailer, began its partnership with Ocado which allowed ICA to open its first automated 32,000 sq. metre warehouse in Stockholm to meet the rapidly growing demand for e-commerce in the region. This is a timely development for ICA, who achieved e-commerce growth of 117% in 2020 and during the first nine months of 2021, online grew to account for 4.9% of ICA Sweden’s sales, versus a share of 3.4% during the same period last year which indicates the trend is still growing rapidly[3].

The retail experience

When online grocery shopping becomes more common, the traditional retailers will need to win the customers with all the advantages a physical shop has. Retailers need to offer an experience to a customer to retain them. The stores can serve as a meeting point where food and drink can be bought and consumed. A place where you can get advice from experts and where you can be inspired by products.

The retail landscape is becoming more diverse. The consumer needs of each of the shopping platforms varies. However, with the rise of online commerce, buyers should consider logistics, added costs due to delivery drivers and quality of products reaching their end consumer.

For further information on sustainable Irish food and drink exporters please contact linda.madigan@bordbia.ie in your local Bord Bia for supplier connections

[1] IGD, March 2022

[2] IGD, 2020

[3] IGD, 2021 ICA and Ocado go live with first CFC.

On November 10th, 2021, Ireland took home a record-breaking 46 gold medals in the 2021 World Steak Challenge – a first for any country in the competition’s six-year history.

Irish meat suppliers ABP Cahir, Dawn Meats and Kepak and retailers including Lidl Ireland and SuperValu were among the winners to emerge triumphant at the annual competition, which was held at Dublin’s FIRE Steakhouse & Bar

The winners also included Irish meat exporters Ashbourne Meat and Liffey Meats, as well as Higgins Butchers, James Whelan Butchers, FX Buckley and Martin Jennings.

Judging was blind and conducted by an international panel of more than 50 independent experts including meat scientists, master butchers, grillers and specialist steak chefs.
Each steak was judged on its own merits against internationally agreed technical criteria, raw and cooked.

All 46 gold-medal-winning Irish beef cuts were reared on a grass-fed diet with Sirloin proving to be the most popular steak securing 19 gold medals

Irish Angus Cross was the most popular breed for the Irish steaks, followed by Hereford and Aberdeen Angus.

one cooked and one raw steak

For a full list of winners, visit https://worldsteakchallenge.com/live/en/page/winners-2021 or contact your local Bord Bia office at Linda.Madigan@bordbia.ie

Milk collections in Ireland are up almost 6.5% in the first nine months of 2021, while exports are look on track to exceed €5 billion for the third year running.

Butter and cheese are the largest categories by volume accounting for 18% and 17% of all exports, respectively. Over 90% of this volume is going to the key markets of Europe, UK and North America with strong growth also seen in milk powders to Asia and Africa.

In a European context, this positive performance is set against a backdrop of stable milk production, with declines in output in the key producers of France and Germany. Soaring input, processing and logistics costs, which have disrupted the global supply chain also had an impact on performance.

Sustainability has proven to be a fundamental differentiator for Irish dairy as the Irish food industry boasts the world’s only national food and drink sustainability programme – Origin Green, which is evolving and adapting to market demands, and now facilitated the measurement of indirect emissions (scope 3)

In 2021, the Irish dairy industry has pivoted to offer “Grass-Fed” certification through an independently audited programme that allows verifiable grass-fed claims to be made in relation to Irish dairy products. Products that qualify to carry this standard can claim that dairy included has been produced from cows with a diet of at least 95% grass that have been on pasture for at least 240 days in the previous year.

For more information on Irish dairy suppliers or on how you can use the Bord Bia grass-fed standard please contact dairyteam@bordbia.ie or contact your local Bord Bia office at Linda.Madigan@BordBia.IE

Recently, Bord Bia published the results of our Global Sustainability Outlook study. For this study, we interviewed:

  • 14 thought leaders in NGO’s and Policy Groups,
  • 25 sustainability leads
  • 175 trade buyers
  • Over 11,000 consumers across 13 markets, chosen as priority markets for Irish food and drink.

This research makes the clear case for businesses to engage in measurable action across a range of sustainability issues. . Below are 6 key insights to understand that sustainability opportunity.

  1. The sustainability agenda is accelerating

There is consistent evidence that the agenda around sustainability has accelerated over the last 5 years, and will continue to do so. Currently, 3 in 4 trade interviewees say that sustainability is important to their business (Bord Bia, 2021) With that same proportion of consumers say they have made an effort to buy more sustainably-produced food and drink in the last 12 months.

It is positive that, according to the Readiness Radar, the sector is unanimously aware of the importance, and growing importance of sustainability, and 30% see themselves as sustainability “leaders” (Bord Bia,2021). But what a sustainability leader is will consistently change. We can’t afford to ignore it or think that what we are doing today will suffice tomorrow. However, another tipping point is coming and the challenge now getting ahead of the acceleration. Businesses must embrace sustainability in strategy and keep up with relevant consumer trends.

  1. Communicating sustainability is complex and has to be targeted correctly

Each stakeholder, each market has their own expectations when it comes to sustainability and influence. Talking to consumers is  about what is tangible and accessible, e.g. waste. However,  talking to sustainability leads or operations managers with a key customer requires a more holistic and long-term view of your sustainability action.

  1. Sustainability is becoming a core purchasing criteria for trade

Environmentally-friendly production of food and drink is now up there with consistency of supply as a core purchasing criteria for trade. 51% of interviewees say sustainability is “integral” to their business (Bord Bia,2021). This is especially the case for dairy and meat buyers. Sustainability is central to the strategy of a large amount of your buyers’, so make sure you’re acting on it, and shouting about that action. All Origin Green members have sustainability benefits and 47% of European buyers interviewed said Origin Green would encourage them to do business with Irish suppliers (Bord Bia, 2021).

  1. Opportunity for long-term customer partnerships through sustainability

As big retailers set emissions targets, with their full supply chain in scope, they are looking for suppliers which share their sustainability mindset, and share their data. We could soon be in a scenario where suppliers that aren’t sharing strong sustainability proof points could miss out on the opportunity for deep integration into their key customers’ supply chains.

  1. Consumers expect food producers to step up


Photo by Viki Mohamad on Unsplash

61% of consumers say it will become more important to them to buy more sustainably-produced food and drink in the next 3 years and they are looking for food producers to do more.. 63% say food producers are responsible for improving sustainability in food and drink, ahead of government/policymakers, farmers, shoppers themselves and retailers (Bord Bia, 2021).The expectation from consumers is for sustainable production to be more mainstream on their supermarket shelves.

6. Packaging, waste and welfare are the key consumer topics


types of packaging

Photo by Brett Zeck on Unsplash

Packaging is a key proxy for consumers to understand the sustainability credentials of a brand. Consider what materials could be used to keep your product hygienic, but that can be easily recycled or broken down., Think about reducing the size of your products for smaller households.

When it comes to meat and dairy, animal welfare, and grass-fed, stands out.. Almost 1 in 4 beef consumers globally say it is appealing and it is worth paying a premium for and just under 1 in 5 dairy consumers saying the same (Bord Bia, 2021).

Please visit https://www.bordbia.ie/industry/insights/global-sustainability-insights/  for a deeper understanding into the Global Sustainability Outlook Report or contact your local Bord Bia office at Linda.Madigan@bordbia.ie


Bord Bia. (2021). Global Sustainability Insights.

Bord Bia has published its latest Meat Shopper Insights report for Q1 2022. Once again, this report looks at key trends in how European shoppers are buying meat. This report includes data for all 7 European markets (Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden) included in the research.

This report looks at the impact of inflation across Europe. Inflation is causing a rise in energy prices, which is affecting household economic decisions. Grocery is a clear area where shoppers can reduce expenditure.

When shopping for meat is it clear that concern over cost is visible, as over 31% of Swedish consumers indicated as their reason not to purchase beef. Over the 2-year period (2020-2022), expensiveness is increasing as a barrier to purchase and has ranked as the 1st or 2nd barrier to purchase in all markets with the exception of Italy. This is why future expected consumption of animal protein is due to increase. Yet, although consideration and purchase numbers are down on this time last year, the figures are slightly up on the 2020 Q1 figures.

When buying beef, the report highlights that is difficult to get shoppers to trade up, with steak purchases being particularly hit as Swedish shoppers look to more affordable cuts such as beef burgers and beef mince.  Trips to restaurants have also been hit hard as people try to cut down on spending. To replace restaurant trips, some shoppers are instead looking for high quality meat for at-home special occasions. Buyers should consider this as an opportunity to innovate.

However, grass-fed still has the ability to keep shoppers engaged and can help justify shoppers in their decision to trade up. 40% of Swedish shoppers are aware that grass-fed translates to better quality beef, whilst it also is considered good value for money. The report highlights that despite cost concerns, grass-fed is still trending up as a driver to purchase.

Please find the full Q1 2022 Bord Bia Meat Shopper Insights report here. For further information on developments within the Irish meat sector and sustainable Irish meat exporters please contact linda.madigan@bordbia.ie in your local Bord Bia office.