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Canned Tuna Outperforming Other Retail Categories Global, September 11, 13

Hit by the economic crisis, consumers across the globe are increasingly switching from manufacturer tuna brands to retailer private labels in order to save money. Manufacturers now face the task of marketing their tuna products competitively to persuade those customers to return. However, canned tuna is still seen outperforming other categories.

While all categories of consumer products have been hit by the downward trend of consumer confidence, the tuna market is still managing to maintain healthy performance. Despite retail private labels tempting more sales than well-known brands, growth in the value of tuna sales has surpassed many other foods.

Francisco Bernabe, Analytic Consulting Director for NIELSEN explained that since the start of the economic crisis in 2007 approximately 39 percent of consumers globally had changed the way they were buying, switching to retailer private labels. Over half of consumers in Europe had switched to cheaper brands.

Francisco Bernabe, Analytic Consulting Director for NIELSEN
While tuna prices have increased, causing consumers to switch to cheaper private brands, purchase volume has fallen in Europe. The value of the tuna market however does not seem to have suffered. In fact, in the Spanish tuna market as a whole, helped by increased price of 9.1 percent and a volume drop of just 1.6 percent, value rose 7.5 percent in 2012.

Private labels in Spain increased tuna prices by 11.1 percent, seeing a 10.0 percent jump in total value of their tuna sale, while all manufacturer brands combined in the Spanish market incurred just a steady 2.7 percent total value rise of their business after a 6.8 percent hike of price. This indicates that more consumers switched to private label, creating lower volume sales of the brands.

Bernabe added that tuna manufacturers need to take advantage of the sustained popularity and demand for the product and focus on investments into marketing, promotion and media in order to compete with retailer labeled tuna.

He explained that companies that tried to decrease their cost by investing less in communication with their customers did not perform as well as brands that push their products in the media.

The tuna market was identified as growing healthily in European countries, with consumers continuing to buy even though price has gone up. In terms of rise in value, tuna was identified as outperforming many other foods.

He urges now that manufacturers focus on innovation in order to encourage customers that have switched away from their products to choose them once again over the retailer brands available.

Bernabe said that well-known brands need to establish their “own value for money” reputation amongst consumers, just as private labels have.