The UK economy could be close to hitting escape velocity, following many quarters of sluggish growth. Such has been the rapidity of the turnaround that we have revised up our 2013 growth forecast and we are confident that 2014 will similarly beat our previous expectations. As the UK economy begins to gather pace, total food expenditure will rise. Following the horse meat scandal earlier in 2013, British consumers are much more aware about the quality of their food. As health consciousness rises, healthy food consumption will grow, bucking the trend of the last five years.
Headline Industry Data (local currency)
- 2013 per capita food consumption growth = +1.4%; forecast 2013 to 2017 = +13.3%.
- 2013 alcoholic drinks value sales growth = +1.2%; forecast 2013 to 2017 = +8.5%.
- 2013 soft drinks value sales growth = +4%; forecast 2013 to 2017 = +16%.
- 2013 mass grocery retail sales growth = +1.5%; forecast 2013 to 2017 = +8.7%.
Key Company Trends
Food Consumption Trends Changing: According to a report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in autumn 2013, in the last five years British consumers have cut down on the amount they spend on food and are making cheaper, less healthy choices. While the UK economy has been stagnant since the beginning of the 2008 global economic crisis, food price inflation has risen sharply, by 10.2% between 2007 and 2012. In that period, total food expenditure rose 5.9% to GBP75.9bn, meaning that real food expenditure fell by 4.3% in the five years to 2012. Food prices in the UK have risen a great deal faster in comparison to general inflation (CPI) than they have in France, the US, and OECD countries, as an average. As a result, cheaper and less healthy foods rose in popularity, driven by necessity from a cash-strapped consumer.
Diageo Slows Pace of Expansion: Having spent GBP3bn on acquisitions in the past three years, drinks giant Diageo announced in November 2013 that it will curb the pace of its takeovers, quashing rumours of a potential deal with US bourbon manufacturer Beam Inc. The world's largest spirits producer has aggressively increased its exposure to fast growing emerging markets. More than 42% of the company's revenues are now generated in emerging markets, up from 30% in 2004. However, expansion deals have significantly increased Diageo's debt commitments, standing at US$8,319mn in FY2013, up from US $3,729mn in FY2005.
Key Risks To Outlook
There are significant downside risks to our economic growth forecasts, particularly stemming from the impact of fiscal consolidation and the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.