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Spanish FMCG grew 0.7% in 2018 fuelled by packaged food



Spanish FMCG grew 0.7% in 2018 fuelled by packaged food

The value of the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector in Spain grew by 0.7% in 2018, according to the report 2018 Retail and FMCG study recently issued by Kantar Worldpanel, the global expert in shoppers’ behaviour. In terms of volume, the market has fallen by 1.1%, restricted due to a population slowdown that stops growth in volumes, and by consumption outside the home, which is becoming increasingly popular.

According to Florencio García, Iberia Retail Sector Director at Kantar Worldpanel: "Spanish households are still focused on price, but are willing to pay more for those products that provide them with a differential value". This trend is especially noticeable in packaged food – despite 0.6% lower consumption, Spaniards have spent 1.9% more on this section compared to a year ago. In other words, the price consumers have paid for their basket of packaged products has risen by 2.5%. This increase is largely due to a change in the product mix and a search for greater added value in each purchase, either with more premium varieties or with healthier options. In the same vein, and despite its significant price premium, packaged eco/organic food has experienced a growth of 19% compared to 2017.

The section most responsible for the limited growth of the FMCG sector is Fresh Products: Spaniards have bought around 2% less, despite spending remaining practically constant (-0.2%). Fresh products have become the main focus of modern trade strategies, with spending having increased by 2.4% to the detriment of the traditional trade, which accounts for 35% of sales and experienced a fall of 5% in 2018.

In general, when it comes to eating, the Spanish consumer is still seeking enjoyment, but also looks for convenience and health, without devoting a lot of time to the process. For this reason, consumption between meals is becoming increasingly common.

In this context, Mercadona has reinforced its position as Spain's leading retailer in 2018 with a rise of 0.8 points, closing the year with a 24.9% share. That is, 1 out of every 4 euros spent on FMCG in Spain ends up in Mercadona, which has particularly strengthened its position in fresh products.

Carrefour captured 8.4% of the market in 2018, although this represented a 0.3% fall compared to 2017. Spain's second-biggest retailer has been hit by the drop in visits to hypermarkets in general, and is focused on winning over the consumer with the consolidation of its proximity network and its 'Act for Food' strategy as a flagship.

The DIA Group remains the third largest retailer, reaching 65% of Spanish households and with a 7.5% market share. Its fall is primarily due to its more traditional store model, damaged by the increase in competition.

Florencio García continues: "Both Carrefour’s 'Act for Food' and its commitment to small stores in petrol stations, as well as the new DIA & GO stores, suit the current demands of Spanish consumers. Given that these retailers conceded part of the market in 2018, it will be vital for them to resume their growth paths in 2019. This is especially true for DIA, pending the takeover bid by the Russian group Letterone Retail".

In 2018, Lidl became the retailer with the second highest number of shoppers. 66.5% of Spanish households have shopped at the German outlets at least once during the last year, which has increased its market share by 0.5 share points to 4.8% of the market value. For Florencio García: “It is becoming increasingly clear that Lidl's challenge is to retain and capture more share of pocket from its shoppers". The ‘smart discount’ model seems to have consolidated itself in the Spanish market, given that Aldi gained more shoppers than any other retailer in 2018. 

Finally, Eroski (5.3% market share) has maintained its privileged position in Galicia and the Basque Country, but not in Catalonia with Caprabo, which is limiting its development. Auchan (3.5%) is immersed in a process to enhance its supermarket network using the Mi Alcampo format. According to Florencio García: "This strategy is suited to consumer demands, which will validate it in 2019".

The positive image of fresh products and their positioning as the intermediate point in the shift from traditional markets to modern trade has allowed the regional supermarkets to continue to grow and remain a growth option for manufacturer brands. Eroski aside, regional supermarkets account for 11.8% of the Spanish market and increased their market share by 0.5 points in 2018, maintaining the steady course of recent years.

E-commerce is continuing to progress slowly in the Spanish FMCG market. It has reached a share of 1.6% of sales, gaining 0.1 points on 2017, but was the only channel to add shoppers. Still far removed from the numbers of France (5.6%) and the United Kingdom (7.2%), the obstacle to further growth in Spain is the high number of stores, coupled with the difficulty in selling fresh products through electronic commerce in a country that is so linked to these products. 

Florencio García concludes: “In 2019 we will see a Spanish market where the lines between purchase and consumption options become increasingly thin. Consumers will have the option of buying take-away food at a supermarket, ordering food from a restaurant or having their daily purchase delivered to their home the same day they order it, and they will alternate and explore all these options, opening up an interesting panorama in search of growth in value that overcomes the burden of the population slowdown”.

Market shares and penetration in Spain in 2018


Market share value

Difference (percentage points)

Shoppers (% penetration)

Difference (percentage points)











Dia Group





Eroski Group










Auchan Group





Regional supermarkets* 





Source: Kantar Worldpanel, data at end of 2018
*Regional Supermarkets does not include Eroski or El Árbol supermarkets


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