Availability: The key to restore trust and drive volume

Date : 03 October 2023

The UK food and grocery supply chain has come under unprecedented pressure over recent years. Our latest Viewpoint Special report: Rebuilding resilience in the UK food supply chain highlighted a number of factors that have contributed to this. These include a lack of capital investment, rising labour costs and labour shortages, weak productivity growth, the effects of climate change, extreme weather and changes to border operations.

Another symptom of a faltering food supply chain is unusually weak availability.

Availability concerns remain elevated

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In the latest consumer research conducted for IGD (27-28 September 2023), six in ten adults (58%) experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently. This has remained stable since last month. Although this is significantly lower than when restrictions on fruit and vegetables were introduced in February, this is still significantly higher than when this was first measured in July 2021 (50%).

Availability concerns highest for produce and dairy

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Availability concerns have remained relatively flat for fresh produce (24% compared to 25% last month). Concerns have continued to decline for dairy (22% compared to 40% in March).

Availability concerns are highest in the East Midlands (68%) and London (62%) compared to 48% in the North East and 49% in Eastern England.

Restoring trust and volume

Low availability, even the perception of low availability, undermines the reputation or image of the food and consumer goods industry. IGD’s ShopperVista research (available for ShopperVista subscribers) shows that trust in the food industry to ensure good availability has declined from 78% in September 2020 to 68% in September 2023.

IGD forecasts anticipate that volume demand will pick up as the economic situation improves, but the brands and retailers to benefit from this will be the ones with the best availability.

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