Jean-Jacques Vandenheede, European Business Insight Director
SUMMARY: Drawing on Nielsen’s unique data assets and geographical footprint the European Growth Reporter compares overall market dynamics (value and unit growth) in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector across Europe. Based on the widest possible basket of product categories that are continuously tracked by Nielsen in each of these countries and channels, the fourth quarter 2009 shows nominal growth, which has remained stable since the prior quarter, and around 3% for four consecutive quarters.
The fourth quarter of 2009 has shown nominal growth at 2.9%, a stable growth rate hovering around 3% for the year, once again outperforming the United States which ended the year with a 0.6% nominal growth rate. European inflation remained low at 1.3% in the fourth quarter. Deflation held at the -5% level in Slovakia, Finland and Portugal.
Europe experienced higher volume increases in 2009 than the prior year, increasing by 0.6% to 1.6% in the fourth quarter. Volume growth is accelerating in Austria, Finland, France, Ireland, Norway, Spain and Turkey.
The Big 5 European economies (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom) ended the year at various stages of recovery. France and Spain recorded solid volume improvements while Germany and Italy stayed close to the zero line. Value growth in the United Kingdom reached the 5% mark with 3% points of this coming from volume increases.
By year end, 2009 performance delivered better volume growth than 2008. The best volume improvements came from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, Austria and Germany. Offsetting those gains were volume losses recorded in Switzerland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.
Total European View
Nominal Volume Growth
Across Europe, nominal volume growth inched up to 2.9% in the final quarter of 2009, gaining 0.3% point over the third quarter. This small gain in volume places European volume growth ahead of the United States which saw volume drop by -1.2% in the fourth quarter.
The volume growth rate is accelerating in the following countries: Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
The Big 5 European economies are showing a mixed picture. While France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom recorded volume gains over 2008, Italy lost ground.
Ireland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic recorded the greatest volume declines in 2009.
Unit value growth fell precipitously from 5.7% in 2008 to 1.5% in 2009, underperforming the prior year in every single quarter of 2009, reflecting slowing inflation and price compression implemented at retailers as a result of economic pressures.
Country Analysis—Western Europe
The latest quarterly Europe Growth Reporter measuring volume and value sales in the fast moving consumer goods industry across markets in Europe is showing encouraging signs of improvement with more than half the countries measured recording positive volume trends. 2009 volumes increased to +1.7% in 2009 from 1.1% growth in 2008. This is still some way from 2007’s 3% growth rates; a slow but steady improvement.
As the chart above demonstrates, the leading Western European growth countries in fourth quarter 2009 were Turkey, Norway, the United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland.