With prices still highly inflated, the volume and value of asparagus sold in Great Britain continues its descent. The 8,365 tons sold at retail in the last 12 months is 6.8% lower than the previous year’s total. In comparison, the wider vegetable market declined by just 2.1% and the full fresh produce market by 2.8% over the same period. The average price per kilo of asparagus rose nearly 5% to £9.28 over the 52 weeks to September 3 and caused penetration to fall for several months, dropping nearly 6% since a year ago to 26.5% of British households. However, this downward trend appears to be softening, Kantar says.
Brits swapping out asparagus for staples like potatoes
Kantar data also shows the price inflation has affec-ted purchase frequency, which has slipped 3.2% to just under 5.3 times a year. The shopper behaviour expert says there’s a clear correlation between this inflation and consumers exiting the category. Asparagus shoppers appear to be continuing to switch to more staple items such as potatoes and carrots. Existing shoppers are also buying less this year compared to last year (the volume per buyer is -1.9% to 1.1 kg for the latest 12 months), likely linked to the drop in frequency for asparagus purchases. However, trip volume has re-entered growth in the last couple of months (+1.4% to 210 g), meaning shoppers are now putting a bit more asparagus in their basket. “An increase in volume sold on ‘Y for £X’ deals has likely helped push trip volume back into growth,” Kantar said. “We are seeing across grocery that promotional levels are creeping up and it looks like this is happening within asparagus too,” it added. Overall, the spend on fresh asparagus at retail in Britain was down 2.3% year-on-year to about £77.6 million for the 52 weeks ending on September 3, 2023, a decline driven by fewer shoppers and fewer trips.
Fine asparagus has driven growth in trip volume
Spears account for the biggest share of asparagus sales in the UK, delivering 57% of the value and 70% of the volume sold at retail, followed by tips with 41% and 28% respectively and fine asparagus accounting for the about 3% remainder in both cases. Kantar reports all three of these asparagus sub-categories are seeing penetration decline.