Sales of coconut water and oil boosted by online influencers, as shoppers go loco for coco according to IRI figures

Bracknell, U.K – 23 May 2016 – Consumers are going nuts for coconuts, according to new sales data from IRI, a leading provider of FMCG market intelligence and predictive, actionable insight. Popular with food bloggers, celebrities and health and fitness enthusiasts, edible coconut products are increasingly seen as healthy, tasty and good for the diet, while coconut extract and oils have long been used in hair and beauty products.
According to IRI’s InfoScan data, coconut water, while still representing a relatively small portion of the total soft drinks market (just 1%) is now worth almost £60m in value sales alone, up 64% (52 w/e 26 March 16) over the previous year. Coconut oil is also worth more than £14 million per year in sales to UK supermarkets and has seen a 112% increase over the previous year. While coconut oil sales are increasing, many other oils, such as vegetable and sunflower oil, are declining.
The data also suggests that it is not necessarily the coconut flavour that is driving consumers loco for coco. For example, sales of yoghurts flavoured with coconut are actually slightly down 4.4%, while new brands such as CoYo and KOKO, which are dairy-free alternatives and made from coconut milk, are flying off the shelves. This suggests that it could be the nutritional benefits of coconut that consumers crave and not always the flavour itself, with the increasing popularity of free-from ranges boosting sales.
Coconut milk also seems to be benefiting from shoppers looking for alternatives to traditional dairy varieties, with value sales up by 67% to £16.4 million in the past 12 months.
“Coconuts, and coconut oil in particular, seem to be the popular choice at the moment,” comments Tim Eales, Director of Strategic Insight at IRI, who analysed the data. “Certainly our figures indicate that shoppers are becoming more discerning in their choices, and are not only being influenced by the popularity of Thai-inspired food, but also celebrities praising coconut products for everything from weight loss and hair conditioning to better brain function and whiter teeth!
“Another key influencer of the trend could be Instagram diet guru Joe Wicks, aka ‘The Body Coach’, who recently came second on The Grocer’s 2016 Influencer list, closely beaten by Jamie Oliver. The Internet sensation is known for his love of coconut oil, as shown in his amusing ‘Lean in 15’ videos and number one recipe book. With over 1 million Instagram followers and already linked with a 25% rise of Tenderstem broccoli, it seems his influence has no bounds.”
According to IRI, what is also different about these sales trends is that these are more often than not premium alternatives, showing that as long as the value proposition is strong, consumers are willing to pay higher prices. Niche areas of growth like this are important for retailers to recognise early on to keep customers coming in-store. Clearly an avenue for further growth, retailers are looking to manufacturers to exploit this new trend, but understanding what is really driving sales is key in order to make new product launches successful.  
IRI’s data also shows that coconut hair and beauty products continue to make an impact with shoppers, with coconut hair products up 31%, washing products up 12% and beauty products up 6% in the last year (52 w/e 26 March 16).
InfoScan is the retail sales tracking service from IRI, based on data from EPoS scanners and manual store audits. It is used to monitor and evaluate product performance in the grocery sector and helps facilitate better-informed decisions when developing marketing and sales strategies. InfoScan provides continuous comprehensive and accurate access to granular information by category about product performance, distribution and promotional responsiveness.

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