Exciting times ahead

As 2018 draws to a close it’s time to take a look back at what has shaped the food and non-alcoholic drink industry in Scotland over the past year.


LESLEY Ann Gray, strategic lead for Scotland at market research company Kantar Worldpanel – which provides the listing of the top 50 Scottish non-alcohol brands in Scotland and the Top 25 Scottish alcohol brands in Scotland – analyses the year for the leading Scottish brands in Scottish food and drink retailing

LOOKING back, 2018 has once again been a year of dynamic change in the environment in which Scottish food companies operate.

Inflation has driven market growth and an unusually hot summer boosted spend as shoppers visited stores more often, driving growth in soft drinks and ice cream. Meanwhile, household incomes remain under pressure and shoppers are carefully managing their grocery spend, putting ever more pressure on brands to remain relevant.

In terms of retail structure, consumers have continued to switch their spend to the discounters, with inevitable impact on the mainstream retailers. Online shopping has continued to grow – taking £221m from bricks and mortar supermarkets in the last year. That said, in Scotland we do less online shopping than the rest of Britain.

Across the country, promotions have continued to decline for the fourth year in a row; 33% of all products are now sold on some sort of promotional deal compared with 38% back in 2015. As the Scottish Government looks to legislate further to curb the rise of obesity, for some categories the focus for both retailers and brands will be on increasing growth through full price sales.

The focus for the retailers over the past 12 months has been on leveraging their own label ranges to differentiate themselves from rivals, and to give them more control over costs.

In Tesco, we have seen the opening of Jacks – its own take on discount retailing – emphasising just how serious a challenge the discounters pose. Looking ahead, the merger of Asda and Sainsbury’s, subject to CMA approval, threatens a seismic shake up of the retail landscape.

While Scottish consumers have always been loyal to their favourite food and drink brands,  own label is on the rise. Private label’s share of spend has continued to increase over the last four years and currently sits at 48% compared with 44% in 2014.

In Britain, own label accounts for 53% of grocery spend, and with most retailers seeing growth from their premium and standard tiers and it would appear that Scotland is following this trend.

This poses a quandary to manufacturers considering where their focus should be for future success. It is interesting to note that the discounters have seen success as a result of giving space to more branded lines, complicating the question further.

For the brands that appear on these lists, and have done so for many years, it is seen as a rite of passage as a brand grows in popularity and value with the top spots hotly contested.

There has been no change in the top three positions with Irn Bru, Graham’s the Family Dairy and Malcolm Allan still dominating the top spots.

Irn Bru has deftly navigated the soft drinks levy with the success of Irn Bru Xtra, whilst Graham’s has widened its portfolio with a range of high protein products that meet consumers’ increasing preference for healthier choices. Malcolm Allan features twice on the chart, with its core brand and also the Scottish Slimmers range it produces. 

The other new entry is Strathmore’s Scottish Favourites brand which appears for the first time. Similar to Malcolm Allan, this brand is part of the McIntosh family showing the benefit of having several brands meeting different consumer occasions or needs.

Eighteen brands have moved up the ranking since last year, and it’s the meat processors that are achieving the fastest growth, with Halls, We Hae Meat and Calder Millerfield showing the biggest gains.

At Kantar Worldpanel our theme for 2018 has been finding new shoppers. Our client events throughout the year have looked to demonstrate why it is important to continue to seek new shoppers for your brands.

Half of your shoppers this year will not buy your brand next year and your customers are likely also to buy from your competitors.

Finding new shoppers requires a deeper understanding of the market and consumer behaviour, and our work with clients this year has uncovered how important it is to increase your presence across all channels, and to boost your relevance by understanding how your products are consumed.

The impact of the rising health trend, harnessing the power of consumer experiences, and the rules of successful NPD have also been hot topics throughout the year.

As to which brands will appear on next year’s list, it is safe to say that they will earn their place through building penetration through trade investment, using the opportunity to broaden their ranges through NPD and distribution, and by supporting long term physical and mental availability through a multi-channel marketing campaign.

Looking ahead to 2019, Brexit will start to have an impact on the domestic and export markets. Health will continue to gather momentum, driven by both consumer behaviour and government interventions looking to improve the nutritional value and quality of the nation’s diets.

The year started and will end with heightened consumer awareness around plastics and their environmental impact, and this will continue to influence behaviour.

The discounters look set to increase their market share, whilst the retailers do all they can to differentiate with their own label ranges. An exciting time awaits.

Top 50 Scottish take-home food and drink brands in Scotland – excluding alcohol

  Brand Rank 2018 Rank 2017 Moving up
1 Irn-Bru 1 1  
2 Graham’s the Family Dairy 2 2  
3 Malcolm Allan 3 3  
4 McIntosh 4 6
5 Bells Pies and Pastry 5 5  
6 Baxters 6 4  
7 Tunnock’s 7 7  
8 Seriously 8 9
9 Simon Howie 9 11
10 Hall’s 10 22
11 Barr 11 13
12 Scotty Brand 12 14
13 Highland Spring 13 19
14 Albert Bartlett 14 12  
15 Rowan Glen 15 15  
16 Galloway 16 17
17 JG Ross 17 18  
18 Wiseman 18 8  
19 Scottish Blend 19 21
20 Border 20 16  
21 Mackie’s 21 10  
22 Mothers Pride 22 23
23 Macb 23 20  
24 Nairn’s 24 24  
25 We Hae Meat 25 37
26 Marshalls 26 29
27 Mackays 27 31
28 Genius 28 27  
29 Paterson’s 29 28  
30 Great Scot 30 25  
31 Tarbert Fine Foods 31 30  
32 Lawsons 32 35
33 Mrs Tilly’s 33 32  
34 Scott’s Porridge Oats 34 26  
35 Calder Millerfield 35 48
36 Mrs Unis 36 33  
37 Buchannan’s 37 34  
38 Big and Scottish 38 38  
39 Glenrath 39 43
40 Highland Game 40 36  
41 Orkney 41 40  
42 Hamlyns 42 41  
43 Dean’s 43 44
44 Macsween 44 39  
46 Lees 45 45  
47 Scottish Favourites 46 NE
48 Scottish Slimmers 47 NE
49 Swankies 48 47  
50 Grant’s 49 42  
50 Stockan’s 50 46