The economic recession in the Netherlands has made it difficult for the government to persevere with fiscal austerity, which could provide a temporary boost to food and drink sales in the country. However, given the government's role in promoting public finance reform across the eurozone, the coalition is unlikely to change course for the time being and will respond to missed fiscal targets with further budget savings. An expected return to positive economic growth in 2014 would provide some cover for the government's austerity agenda. Nevertheless, we do not expect much dynamism in the country's food and drink market in the short term, with discounted goods remaining popular amid high unemployment and rising inflation.
Headline Industry Data (local currency)
- 2013 per capita food consumption growth: +1.10%; forecast compound annual growth rate (CAGR) 2014 to 2018 = +3.21%.
- 2013 alcoholic drink value sales growth: +1.75%; forecast CAGR 2014 to 2018 = +1.13%.
- 2013 soft drink value sales growth: +1.06%; forecast CAGR 2014 to 2018 = +2.56%.
- 2013 mass grocery retail sales growth: +2.64%; forecast CAGR 2014 to 2018= +3.70%.
Key Company Trends
Unilever To Accelerate Food Growth Again: In early 2014 Unilever announced the sale of its Royal pasta brand in the Philippines to local food and drink group RFM Corp in a deal worth US$47.8mn. At the same time the company also announced the sale of its meat snacks division in the UK, including the Peperami brand, to beef jerky business Jack Link's. However, the chief executive of Unilever Paul Polman also revealed that the company plans to accelerate growth of its food brands in 2014, after taking a number of actions to stabilise the performance of the unit over the past 12 months.
Ahold Exits Slovakia: In late 2013 Ahold announced that it had reached an agreement to sell its Slovakian business, comprising 24 stores, to Condorum. The latter already operates more than 90 retail stores in Slovakia under the brand names Terno and Moja Samoska, with net sales of EUR127mn in 2012. According to Ahold, the retailer had reviewed its strategic options and decided to sell the business as it has a limited market position in Slovakia.
Key Risks To Outlook
With domestic demand hit by falling house prices and a lack of appetite for fixed investment, the strength of global demand will be key to safeguarding the domestic recovery given the Netherlands' substantial current account surplus. We stress, however, that a continued deterioration in eurozone demand or insufficient monetary easing from the European Central Bank (ECB) pose key risks to our forecasts through 2014.