Selection of Avonmore milk cartons

How Covid-19 is impacting Irish dairy trends

13 July 2020
Community News

Dairy as well as most other fast moving consumer goods categories have been significantly affected by the global Covid-19 crisis. Similar patterns for category trends have been observed across the world as most countries have experienced (and are still experiencing), school closures, consumer stockpiling, lockdowns and travel restrictions. The Irish grocery trade shows major uplifts for dairy products since March.

Major changes to consumer behaviour in a short period of time

Looking at how consumer behaviour has changed since the coronavirus outbreak, it is safe to say that certain trends observed pre-Covid-19 have been fast-tracked. Shifts that previously were predicted to take several years have occurred in just a couple of months because of the pandemic. Never has so much changed so quickly.

In the recently published report “How Will Consumer Markets Evolve After Coronavirus?” by Euromonitor, some of the key changes are highlighted:

  • A more holistic approach to sustainability that aims to create social, environmental and economic value
  • Reinforced pre-Covid-19 trends towards "hometainment" and digital experiences
  • The rise of online, click & collect, frictionless retail and direct-to-consumer (D2C)
  • Redefinition of wellness, including health in its purest form
  • Innovation driven by the demand for immunity/health boosting ingredients
  • Focus on self and family and on preventative and immune health

Unprecedented growth in Irish grocery trade

Sales growth in the Irish grocery trade since the Covid-19 breakout follows the same trajectory as in many other countries. Overall growth has been substantial since people have either been forced, or chosen, to stay home and new habits have developed. Several months after the initial lockdown, we are still seeing unprecedented growth for fast-moving consumer goods.

Ireland Grocery Trade Chart

Source: Nielsen

Note: Stay at Home phase: 27 March–5 May. Easing of restrictions phase: 5 May–present​

Dairy products to the fore

“Health is the new wealth” is an expression used frequently in recent months. According to market research company FMCG Gurus, 8 in 10 consumers globally plan to improve their overall health as a result of Covid-19. Consumers want to address all areas of wellbeing, such as mental and cognitive health, as well as also seeking to improve their physical fitness by exercising more regularly. Boosting the immune system has become a priority for consumers globally.

Euromonitor have found that consumers are now turning to everyday, simple foods, perceived as natural and nutritious as well as affordable, particularly in light of financial worries.

Dairy products are truly versatile when it comes to both nutritional value and as ingredients in cooking and baking. In Ireland, we have seen strong growth for many dairy categories during the Covid-19 crisis.

For the 16-week period to 14th June, Nielsen reported a value growth in Irish grocery outlets of 15% year-on-year for Milk – a normally quite stable category. As many consumers increasingly turned to home cooking and baking during the Stay at Home phase, other dairy categories that grew rapidly were Cream (+44%), Butter (+28%) and Cheese (+26%)-driving the overall 19% growth for Total Chilled Products.

Ireland Grocery Trade Chart2

Source: Nielsen

The rise of dairy products is likely to continue as Irish consumers’ mindsets have changed because of Covid-19. Staying healthy has really become priority for most of us and dairy has an important role to play in this new context.