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FMCG industry sees ‘slow return’ to pre-pandemic levels for Pinoys

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The shopping baskets of consumers globally may no longer be the same after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the household shopping panels across seven major markets, which represent 29 percent of the global population, are possibly heading back to pre-pandemic levels as quarantine restrictions are lifted, data and insights firm Kantar said that the same cannot be said for the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) market in the Philippines.

“Our data reveal that major markets around the world are slowly showing signs of pre-pandemic times. While restrictions are being lifted in many countries, including the Philippines, FMCG companies, including our small and medium enterprises, must pay attention to behaviors that consumers have developed since the pandemic and capitalize on these in order to sustain the momentum,” said Lourdes Deocareza-Lozano, New Business Director, Worldpanel Division of Kantar Philippines.

From January to September 2021, FMCG growth slowed down to just 0.8 percent in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Mainland China, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico, a few points shy of Kantar’s 1 percent forecast for that year. This is far from the performance of the FMCG industry in the Philippines, which registered a -4 percent growth in the first nine months of 2021 versus the year before.

Globally, food categories under breakfast and lunch benefit most from the shift to a work-from-home set-up, especially during the first nine months of 2021. Beverages (2.5 percent) and dairy (1.8 percent) such as milk, flavored milk, coffee (instant, beans and ground), ready-to-drink tea, juices and carbonated soft drinks saw steady growth across the seven major markets covered by Kantar’s recent study.

In addition, the return of face-to-face socializing in other parts of the globe may be having a positive impact on the health and beauty category with a 1.8 percent increase in consumer spend. This covers make-up, sun protection, and fragrances.

These consumer trends, however, are not necessarily being observed in the Philippines, according to Kantar.

In fact, total beverages only saw a 1 percent growth, while dairy experienced a -11 percent growth in the year to date September 2021 compared to the same period the year before.

Moreover, breakfast categories like total coffee, coffee creamer, cereal and oatmeal further declined in the last two years since the pandemic started.

Filipinos instead turned to easier or more convenient ways of cooking via bouillons, instant noodles, cooking oil, seasonings and sauces.

Healthier beverages such as cultured milk, family and adult milk, and energy drinks also showed stable growth locally.

Consumers in major markets around the world continue to rely on e-commerce, based on data from Kantar.

From 8.8 percent in September 2019, e-commerce has increased to 13.4 percent in September 2021. This has impacted all channels—from supermarkets (from 34.2 percent to 33.3 percent), hypermarkets (20.5 percent to 18.3 percent) and traditional (15 percent to 14.7 percent) to convenience stores (2.4 percent to 2.3 percent)—all experiencing a slight decrease in global value share from Q3-2019 to Q3-2021.

During the height of quarantine restrictions, the Philippines shared the same upward trend for e-commerce activity as the other countries.

From September 2019 to September 2021, the total online FMCG penetration increased from 5 percent to 7.2 percent. This was even higher in the National Capital Region (7.8 percent to 9.9 percent), North Luzon (5.6 percent to 8.5 percent), and South Luzon (6 percent to 9.4 percent).

Although still nascent, online channels were more popular for bar bath soap, shampoo, laundry powder, lotion, baby diaper, and frozen or chilled meat.

According to Kantar, 1.8 million Filipino homes purchased in-home FMCG items online at least once in 2021.

But Deocareza-Lozano said that e-commerce remains a small portion in the overall growth of the local FMCG industry.

“E-commerce is here but there’s still room to increase its share of the FMCG market in the country. Companies that are able to optimize traditional, modern and online space to retain customers and attract new ones can help drive the sector’s growth back to pre-pandemic numbers,” she added.

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