Ice Cream Sales Cool Off…But Not As Much As Other Types of Food

How has COVID-19 impacted the Netherlands’ US$402 million ice cream industry? 

According to our CPG data*, the lockdown has melted out-of-home demand by over -30%, compared to the same period last year. Merchants were unfortunately not able to reap the gains from the sunniest April on record.

Unilever’s ice cream business, the world’s largest in annual sales, sees half its sales made outside of grocery stores in places like beaches and parks. In fact, the company has been ramping up partnerships with food delivery services to allow consumers to order ice cream along with their takeout.

However, compared to other food categories, ice cream is still holding up relatively well. There has been an even greater decline in revenue for out-of-home consumption of drinks, prepared meals, snacks and candy.

The only question is whether demand for ice cream will be revived in the critical summer months ahead, especially as F&B outlets will be allowed to reopen again. 

*About our data:
Suburbia partners with companies in the payments and retail industries to create data sets that track anonymized consumer purchases across Europe, delivering a daily view into some of the world’s biggest consumer brands. For insights on consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends, Suburbia’s data set covers sales in over 14,000 on-trade channels across six countries in Europe.

The Recovery is Real: 50% Jump in Open Merchants in Germany

The F&B industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediately after lockdown measures were announced, our CPG data* showed only around a third of restaurants in our panel remained open in Germany and the Netherlands.

Clearly, many restaurants needed some time to adapt their business and pivot to delivery and takeout. While there was incremental growth in open merchants in the weeks following the shutdown, growth has been slow and gradual. Since the lockdown, nearly half of restaurants in Germany are now back in business, while 20% more restaurants in the Netherlands have reopened since the lockdown came into effect.

However, it appears that German F&B is seeing a healthier recovery in sales per merchant. While there was a sharp decline in sales leading up to more stringent social distancing measures, it made a significant gain the following week. While German restaurants are still making considerably lower revenue with the loss of dine-in sales, the value of restaurants receipts in the week of 20 April was over 75% of receipt value in a “regular” week prior to the lockdown. 

Meanwhile, Dutch F&B merchants have been less fortunate, seeing no sharp bounce-back after bottoming out. Even in mid-April, when it was being reported that food order volumes in many virus-stricken countries were on the rise again as cooking fatigue set in, sales growth in the Netherlands remained minimal and sluggish. Restaurants were just barely raking in half of the sales they used to. 

While more restaurants are reopening and sales are slowly picking up again, it will be critical to keep an eye on these figures once F&B businesses in both countries are allowed to accept dine-in customers once again.

About our data:
Suburbia partners with companies in the payments and retail industries to create data sets that track anonymized consumer purchases across Europe, delivering a daily view into some of the world’s biggest consumer brands. For insights on consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends, Suburbia’s data set covers sales in over 14,000 on-trade channels across six countries in Europe.

Erdinger and Heineken are big winners in rise of no-alcohol beer

As we’ve seen in recent years, low- or no-alcohol beverages are on the rise as people adopt healthier lifestyles. It’s reported that Germany could be the largest market in Europe for zero-alcohol beer. But even a smaller market like the Netherlands is becoming a breakout star in terms of merchant and sales growth. 

The number of Dutch bars that are stocking non-alcoholic beer are on the rise, and so are sales per merchant – which are growing nearly twice as fast as regular beer. This means establishments that offer no-alcohol beer will see increased sales as more people choose to abstain from drinking.

Meanwhile, sales per merchant for soft drinks – historically one of the main alternatives for alcoholic beverages before zero-alcohol beer came along – have been sluggish, growing a half percent year-on-year in both markets. 

In Germany, the top brands for non-alcoholic beer are all from privately owned breweries – with Erdinger being the most popular choice, followed by Maisel and Krombacher. This could be credited to Erdinger’s long-time efforts to market its alcohol-free beer as an “isotonic sports drink”, even supplying it to national athletes during the Olympics.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Heineken’s 0.0 beer is the market leader while another brand in the Heineken portfolio, Amstel, takes second place. Asahi’s Grolsch comes in third in terms of sales volume.