It’s finally here. The European Championship will be held between June 11 and July 11, having been moved from the summer of 2020 due to Covid.

Wholesalers and retailers can win with a selection of drinks and snacks to keep those armchair fans refreshed during all those nail biting games.

Paul Baker, Founder of St Pierre Groupe, comments: “Summer sporting occasions have always been a key sales opportunity for bakery as consumers embrace these events at home with friends and family. Despite the hugely anticipated reopening of pubs and restaurants, after a tough winter lockdown away from loved ones and a lot of nervousness around a ‘return to normal’, barbecues at home will be an even more popular meal occasion that ties in well with sporting events.”

The retail potential offered by the Euros this year to drive footfall and revenue should not be underestimated. In such challenging times for the UK population, at-home eating occasions that focus on relaxing and enjoying quality time are growing faster than any other at-home occasion (Kantar, June 2020).

“Shoppers will rely on their local convenience store for purchasing key staples at short notice – especially if stadiums and pubs remain closed,” adds Baker. “Wholesalers should therefore stock up on essentials, such as barbecue items to ensure they have everything their customers need during this time.”

Products that offer an extended shelf-life will be a must-stock for wholesalers, as they have become increasingly popular with consumers since the beginning of the pandemic. They will also enable wholesalers and retailers to sustain a barbecue offering all summer long despite the temperamental British weather, without the risk of wastage.

St Pierre and Baker Street offer an extended shelf-life, which is resulting in growth for both brands. St Pierre brand sales are up 52 per cent year on year in the UK, with its brioche burger buns and hot dog rolls driving this success. Equally, Baker Street’s fresher-for-longer products are performing well (+30 per cent year on year) as consumers seek out tasty and convenient bakery products that can be enjoyed at short notice.

Following a long period of lockdown, consumers will continue to look for opportunities to trade up, opting for premium alternatives to improve their everyday meals. With lockdown scheduled to be relaxed during the summer months, family and friends will also be able to make the most of meeting up for sporting occasions.

“Shoppers will therefore be looking for simple ways to elevate their barbecue selection to make these gatherings even more special,” suggests Baker. “Wholesalers can encourage increased basket spend by offering a more premium burger bun or hot dog roll, like brioche.”

As the UK’s number one brioche burger bun brand, St Pierre delivers classic, authentic brioche, with a soft golden texture and subtle sweet flavour. The range includes Brioche Burger Buns, Seeded Brioche Burger Buns and Brioche Hot Dog Rolls, which are all pre-sliced for convenient use.

In addition, shoppers will also continue to reduce the frequency of their big shops, so wholesalers should be aware of the growing importance of top-up purchasing, which is helping to drive sales of bakery in the independents.

Baker Street’s range of burger buns and hot dog rolls are driving growth for the brand and will particularly appeal to shoppers looking to replicate their favourite ‘fakeaway’ menu items, especially during a sporting summer pegged to be the year of ‘al fresco’. Its Burger Buns that are built for burgers and its Hot Dog Rolls can handle even the heaviest of fillings to help to make this summer’s BBQs bigger and better than ever before.

Of course, it’s important to note the general excitement around the return of sporting events, too. All this means that the Euros this year will be more important for retailers than ever before, so wholesalers need to be prepared. Over the course of June and early July, retailers will be catering to shoppers who, not only will be thinking about a BBQ for long-awaited reunions, but how they can tie that in to viewing both the European Championships and Wimbledon.

“To maximise on the occasion, wholesalers should stock up on versatile bakery items that will encourage retailers to buy for multiple meal occasions,” Baker recommends. “Shoppers are increasingly looking for variety to compensate for having to eat at home every day so retailers that ensure they’re stocking a range of products that offer quick and convenient wins for these occasions will encourage shoppers to stock up ahead of big matches.”

Bakery products that offer long-life, multi-pack formats, like those from Baker Street and St Pierre, can also help to reduce waste. This similarly benefits consumers who want to reduce the frequency of their shopping trips during the pandemic.

Over the past 12 months, St Pierre Groupe have invested heavily in expanding its in-house marketing team. As such, the company has multi-channel, consumer-facing campaigns planned for 2021 which have been designed to build brand loyalty across the retail and foodservice sector. St Pierre will be working closely with its wholesale partners to help bring these campaigns to life at every touchpoint.

“Wholesalers can help to maximise basket spend and overall sales with strategic in-store merchandising that demonstrates to customers how it can work in their own retail environments, encouraging upselling,” adds Baker.

Phil Sanders, Out of Home Commercial Director at Britvic, comments: “The soft drinks category has been directly impacted by the varying degrees of lockdown and tier systems that the UK has experienced.” The economic hardship that has occurred as a ripple effect from the pandemic has caused considerable changes in the way consumers are behaving and valuing products. This has changed traditional shopping missions, purchases and overall basket spend, with many people now more mindful about their spending.

“Looking to the months ahead, with the roll out of multiple vaccinations against Covid-19 and the government’s roadmap, there is hope of a not-too-distant recovery and some semblance of normality,” adds Sanders. “As people start to feel more confident about returning to variations of their old day to day routines – whether that be attending small social gatherings or heading out for a summers picnic at the park – wholesalers will need to prepare accordingly to ensure retailers stock a range of soft drinks that cater for the latest consumer needs.”

The pandemic has accelerated health trends, with the value of low-calorie drinks up +7.7% in total soft drinks (IRI), and low sugar cola sales up 22.4% in the last 12 months. Sugar is a key consideration of shoppers, with 33% trying to reduce sugar in their diet (IGD), and sugar free being the number one attribute that prompts a healthier soft drink purchase (HIM). It is clearly vital to cater to those looking for low and no sugar alternatives of the core range, with products such as Tango Sugar Free and Pepsi MAX.

Tango, one of the fastest growing brands within the fruit carbonates segment (Nielsen), introduced Dark Berry to its popular sugar free range in March. The addition of Tango Dark Berry brings a mouth-watering taste of sweet, tangy raspberries and rich blackberries ensuring shoppers don’t have to compromise on taste when choosing a healthier option. Sugar free choices are of particular importance in the fruit carbonates segment, having grown +18% in the last two years (Nielsen). The move follows the successful re-launch of the Tango range in 2019, which is now worth £15.4m RSV (Nielsen), and bought by 2.5m shoppers (Kantar).

Tango Sugar Free Dark Berry is launching in a range of formats, offering convenience stores a number of options to meet new consumer demands. People are increasingly visiting smaller stores for their larger format packs in an effort to avoid the bigger supermarkets. Therefore, the new flavour will be available in 6 can multipacks and 2L bottles to share within the household. For impulse purchases it is also available in singles, with the addition of a £1 PMP 500ml bottle, to show everyday value to customers.

Jose Alves, Senior Brand Manager, Old El Paso, comments: “At Old El Paso, we’re the number one brand in world foods (Nielsen), and we’re on a mission to inspire the ‘good noise’ that happens when you truly connect with friends and family over food. We know that many of these occasions involve watching sports – often games are just an excuse to get together with friends with something delicious to eat and a buzzing atmosphere, making us feel part of something bigger.”

Old El Paso recently commissioned a study of 2,000 adults and found that more than half of Brits believe sport brings people together, with three in 10 consumers having attended or held a get together to tie in with a live event, including the football world cup (53 per cent).

“Most importantly for retailers, a third said watching games and eating go hand in hand. This presents a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on sporting events by stocking up on food that’s easy to share and adds to the fun,” adds Alves.

Mexican food is perfectly placed to create a lively, loud, social occasion at home and scores most highly in World Food for ‘fun and casual’ meals (Kantar). It’s super informal yet tasty, and involves sharing several dishes, which makes it ideal to enjoy as a group while watching sports.

Now, with lockdown restrictions due to ease ahead of summer events such as the Euros, more people will be able to come together and really make a splash of celebrating their favourite teams – with their favourite foods.

Old El Paso’s Tortilla Pockets are super soft, tasty wraps that are sealed at the bottom, perfect for deliciously mess-free Mexican – especially while glued to a sports game! Since launching in October last year, Tortilla Pockets are performing incredibly well, delivering a mammoth 79% of all the growth of Old El Paso and 65.8% of all growth in Mexican.

Twice cooked and extra crunchy, Old El Paso’s Nachips are perfect for loading, dipping and sharing and they’re also Gluten Free! Great as part of a Mexican meal or as a standalone snack while watching a sports game, the tasty chips are growing +38.4% YOY (Nielsen). Old El Paso expects this to continue as lockdown restrictions ease and more people get together.

Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), comments: “The rescheduled Euro 2021 tournament gets underway in Rome on June 11, by which time most outdoor mixing rules are set to have been lifted and up to six people or two households will be allowed to mix indoors in England. England, Scotland and Wales have all qualified and the stage is set for a fantastic competition as fans look to recreate the matchday experience with friends.”

There aren’t many events that bring the country together like the Euros; when England reached the quarter finals in 2012, more than 20 million tuned in.

Colas are top contributors to soft drink growth during football events and Coca-Cola remains the biggest cola brand in GB, so there’s a great opportunity for wholesalers to grow soft drink sales as shoppers stock up on refreshments for the game.

“We expect high demand for larger packs during the Euros as people enjoy nights in watching the football,” adds Burgess. “Value sales of our Coca-Cola multipacks offer value and volume for consumers looking to stock up in a single shop and sales are up 25% in independent and symbol stores. It’s important wholesalers find the right mix of on-the-go and at-home formats as restrictions are eased, keeping space for both.” During lockdown, consumers who have missed the pub, bar or restaurant experience have been looking to recreate that excitement at home with mixed drinks, cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails.

 

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