The wholesale sector continues to rely heavily on foodservice, “which represents the vibrancy of the expanding out-of-home customer”, said chief economist of the IGD James Walton at the organisation’s recent wholesaling conference.
The wholesale channel last year increased sales by 0.3% to almost £30 billion, led by foodservice, which grew by 2.1%.
Repeating figures already published by Cash & Carry Management (June), Walton said that by 2021 the total figure could increase to £31.3 billion, with delivered foodservice rising by 2.5%, delivered grocery by 0.5% and retail-led cash & carry by 0.1%.
In addition to foodservice buoyancy last year, other growth areas were chilled and fresh food and beers, wines & spirits.
One area of decline, said Walton, was tobacco, which was down by 1.8%. “This was to be expected, with new legislation bringing in plain packaging and minimum pack sizes.”
Walton also referred to sales to the independent retail sector last year falling by 0.6%.
“However, IGD’s recent survey indicates that four out of five wholesale suppliers remain optimistic about the future of the wholesale channel, including independent operators. And more than two-thirds of suppliers to UK wholesalers are keen to continue investing in the channel, so there remains huge opportunity for success.”
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