FMCG Markets in South Africa
Locally manufactured and imported goods are sold via a countrywide network of formal and informal channels to shoppers that are deeply divided in terms of spending power. The largest retail outlet for FMCG is supermarkets which have well-established supply chains. Other channels include omnichannel retail (e.g. online, e-commerce, mobile commerce), direct selling, and craft, art and food markets. Some of the largest FMCG companies in the world operate in each market segment, e.g. Johnson & Johnson, Estee Lauder, Colgate-Palmolive, British American Tobacco, Nestle, and Henkel. Local players include listed entities like the largest supermarkets, food manufacturers and wholesalers – among others Pick n Pay, Spar, Woolworths, Shoprite, Tiger Brands, and RCL Foods – and pharmacy chains including Dis-chem, and Clicks. Local privately-owned small businesses abound, e.g. Africology (a cosmetics manufacturer and retailer), and Sally Williams (a confectionery manufacturer and retailer).
The effects of the lockdown that started on 27 March 2020 made trading conditions even more challenging than during the previous four years of recession. Supply chains were disrupted in the first few months of the lockdown, most FMCG products were declared non-essential, and sales stopped for almost three months. The worst-affected markets were tobacco and liquor with bans on sales, while pharmaceuticals, fruit and vegetables experienced huge demand. Panic buying led to product shortages, e.g. flour, yeast, soap and hygiene products. The lockdown was a driver for rapidly rising online sales. Before coronavirus retailers have been trying to divert the effects of operating cost increases from consumers by passing the costs on upstream. Price sensitive consumers keep competition among retailers high and they shop for the best prices.
Strong rivalry exists in fragmented markets with a multitude of competitors in the informal sector and numerous small businesses. In the formal sector, the four largest supermarkets are dominating causing high levels of concentration. Overall, market forces are exercising moderate pressure on competitors. The biggest force is coming from price sensitive buyers in spite of their reduced disposable income. Supermarkets are under investigation by the Competition Commission for unfair price increases of certain foodstuffs, while pharmacies, wholesalers and manufacturers of face masks, sanitisers and other sanitising products have been found guilty and fined for unreasonable price hikes during the lockdown. Following the grocery retail market inquiry, the Commission made recommendations to reduce the dominance of the leading supermarkets. Should these not be implemented regulations to enforce the recommendations might be promulgated.
The report focuses on South African FMCG markets as part of the retail and wholesale industry. Markets are segmented according to type of retailer: general dealers, including supermarkets and non-specialised stores selling FMCG; food, beverages and tobacco sold in non-specialised stores, pharmaceuticals and medical goods, cosmetics and toiletries; and all other retailers that also sell FMCG like stationery, FMCG sold online, and at craft markets. The report refers to 28 Who owns Whom sector reports on individual FMCG markets. In total, over 300 local and international companies are profiled in these reports.