Living and working in the CPG (or FMCG—fast-moving consumer goods—as they say in Australia) space in Australia for a number of years—with a stint in the UK market in between—I was constantly eying the UK and US markets for the latest trends in new product innovation and retail category management best-in-class practices. I can remember quite clearly analyzing UK retailers’ practices around optimizing the shopping experience in store via categorizations and category blocking.
Australia has come a long way since then, and it shows in their retail stores. When you walk the aisles of a Coles or Woolworths, their category blocking and signage make it really clear what product categories are where within a shopping aisle, making it quicker to navigate and find what you are looking for. A decade ago this was unheard of!
Likewise the trend toward natural and organic products is becoming more mainstream in Australian supermarkets. While organic in fresh products is still only a limited section in most mainstream supermarkets, there is growth in shelf space allocated to emerging on-trend brands within categories, and the health food section within the supermarkets has also greatly expanded.
Retailers like Harris Farms now offer the complete shopping experience with a slant toward more organic and natural products. It’s one-stop shopping where you can get all or most of your household needs, even cleaning products (insert pic of a product discovered on RangeMe by Harris Farm now on the shelf!). About Life is another natural and specialty retailer (and using the RangeMe platform) in Australia featuring fresh food, ready-made meals and packaged foods all focused on natural and organic. These are just a couple of examples, but there there are multiple other whole/natural food stores in Australia that focus solely on bulk products (see pic insert) that are flooding mainstream supermarkets and meeting a need that hadn’t before been met in Australian markets.
Though the natural and specialty trend may have started in the US, it’s one that has definitely infiltrated the Australian market. When it comes to specialty in Australia, no one does it better than Victor Churchill Butcher. In fact, I would go as far as to say as this is a retailer that US and UK retailers should be watching. Victor Churchill is leading the way in trends when it comes to presentation, merchandising, and selling their premium meat offerings.
And specialty isn’t just happening in retail. In Bondi beach, a hipster town close to my old home, the organic and natural movement is surging via pressed juice bars at the organic farmers market every Saturday. Like here in the US, this trend is only set to increase, grow and become increasingly mainstream in Australia.
But what you’re not seeing in Australia that we do see in the US are mainstream organic private label offerings, staples like pasta, pasta sauce, ketchup, salad dressing, canned food, chips, snacks, cheese, yoghurt. These organic mainstream staples that we are so used to getting in the US have not quite hit the shelves in Australia. Maybe it’s a factor of cost or perhaps the mainstream consumer there is not as interested in organic as they are here in the US where 45 percent of people actively try to include organic foods in their diet.
But I don’t think that will be the case for long. I think we will see this trend continue to grow exponentially, and mainstream, private label options will be offered in organic in the next few years.