Scenes from a supermarket in Seville

When you’re travelling internationally, do you find it impossible to resist the temptation to visit at least a couple of local supermarkets? Do your family now wearily accept that you find a trip to a foreign food store as exciting as a visit to the Parthenon?

On a recent trip to Seville, in Spain, we visited its Royal Alcazar Palace, its cathedral (the largest in the world) – and, of course, a Carrefour hypermarket. So what stands out in a Spanish supermarket?

1. Digestive wellness is a key concern for Spanish consumers. This was illustrated not only by the vast lactose-free section in the yoghurt aisle – where private label had an impressive share of the shelf space – but also by the section specifically dedicated to “yogures bifidus” – yoghurts with Bifidobacteria.  Here, too, private label was dominant. Spanish consumers are in general very knowledgeable about digestive health. An NNB consumer survey found that nearly 80% of Spanish consumers had heard of probiotics and 75% thought they were good for digestion.


2. Organic is increasing. The organic market in Spain is going through a remarkable period of growth, with a 16.4% increase in organic sales in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the same time in 2018.  Spain is now one of the biggest markets in the world for organic food and drink products. The scale of the organic offering in Carrefour is impressive,  with customers able to choose from over 1,000 products in a dedicated organic section.


3. Sugar not in favour in Spain. As in so many countries, sugar is considered a dietary demon. An NNB survey found that 54% of Spanish consumers claimed to be avoiding sugary foods, and during our visit to Spain the “sin azúcar” (translation: sugar free) message was everywhere. From supermarkets to ice-cream parlours and bakeries, one can always find a section devoted to sugar-free versions of indulgent treats. The Spanish market saw a 16% growth in food and beverage products launched with no/low sugar messages between 2014-2018.

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