Matthew Galbraith November 18, 2018

Behind the retraction of mass consumption that accumulates 1% in the year and intensified from the second semester due to inflation and the deterioration of income, there are some categories of products whose sales volumes not only do not fall but register until some kind of growth. There are also items in the basket that remain stable because they serve as “substitutes” for higher-priced products. A trend that comes hand in hand with the change of habits for greater savings.

In the first case the beers are ready. It is practically “the only category that grows in sales,” says Osvaldo Del Rio, head of the consultancy Scentia. In October, according to the latest available data of the firm, sales of alcoholic beverages (motorized by beer and to a lesser extent by fernet and some appetizers) grew by 5.5% compared to the same month last year. The category accumulates an increase of 8.1% in the year.

The reason for the unusual behavior of consumers in relation to a product that is not essential for food is, according to Del Rio, “the great variety of products and prices that the category has: there are low and premium beers for all socioeconomic levels ” In addition, according to the analyst, “makes an important volume among young people and older adults.”

From Quilmes, the company that leads the market with 75% of sales, commented that “the first half of the year was good in sales, dragging the wave of 2017 when the firm grew 12% in volume. In June or July, the fall began to be seen, “said one source, who agreed that the category” had an important awakening since the end of 2016, after the proliferation of craft beers. Something that was accompanied by the growing development of new varieties and packaging such as individual porrones “.

In addition to drinks with alcohol, there are other products in supermarkets and stores that have been resisting the general decline in sales. “At the lowest socioeconomic levels, even in the context of lower consumption in general, dry sweet cookies maintain certain levels of sales,” says Del Rio. “Because they act as substitutes for snacks or meals,” he says.

According to Scanntech’s measurement in retail stores, in October the “snack-breakfast” category grew 1.4% in volume on a year-on-year basis. As in the accumulated of the year, fresh products grew 2%, according to this measurement.

According to the Scentia analyst, something similar is happening with perishable foods such as yogurt, milk, coffee and frozen foods, where there is a greater propensity of consumers to buy cheaper brands.

All these behaviors of the buyers are part of an economy that maintains an inflation that oscillated, from January to September, at 36% per year in neighborhood stores, in 36.7% in self-service stores and 31.7% in supermarkets.

Another point not less is that “87% of the total mass consumption does 92% of households that earn, on average, below $ 29,000 per month,” according to the records of Scentia.

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