Money-stressed South Africans drop expensive food brands


Walmart-owned wholesale group Massmart says demand for its private label brands has surged as money-strapped South Africans choose to entertain at home and look for more affordable food.

The group said that as consumers turn to private label products to make their money go further, the ‘M’ brand frozen convenience offerings at Makro have grown by more than 30% between January and June this year.

It said it is developing the brand aggressively, noting that attitudes towards private labels are changing in the country.

“There is no doubt that the perception of private labels in South Africa continues to shift as the quality of these products improves and consumer budgets become increasingly limited. Our ‘M’ range typically offers the shopper a savings of between 10% and 15%, which has caught the attention of customers,” it said.

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In addition to tighter pockets, Massmart said South African consumers have also changed their entertainment habits, choosing to dine and entertain at home, given limited entertainment budgets in today’s high inflation environment.

The group is investigating other suitable options to supplement the existing range.

Massmart’s growth in private label sales aligns with the new strategies of Checkers and Pick n Pay, which have developed and expanded their private label offerings over the past two years.

Retail group Pick n Pay began a major overhaul of its brand positioning in South Africa in August, dividing its Pick n Pay brand across two markets.

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Along with the launch of new QualiSave stores, the group recently launched a new premium range under its private label, targeting customers in its recently revamped mid-to-top stores.

PnP’s Crafted Collection offers “premium flavor intertwined with affordability,” according to Pick n Pay, with an initial offering of 70 products in store, with a further 100 expected by the end of the year.

In recent years, Checkers has consciously taken a step into the higher LSM market through its FreshX stores. The store brand owned by Shoprite also launched its premium range, Feast and Forage, in 2021.

Food Lover’s Market has also made a concerted effort in recent years to develop and expand its private label brands, at prices that compare favorably with competitors.

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According to data published in August by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMBEJD), South Africans’ budgets have been stretched to their limits and many households have started cutting out staple foods to make ends meet.

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Among middle-class South Africans, data from the Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor shows that households are increasingly cutting back on discretionary spending and switching to cheaper brands to save money.

Read: Food price shock absorber – South African middle class threatens to shrink