Coles is thinly slicing off an ever bigger share of the $4.7 billion annual Australian delicatessen market, but Woolworths remains Australia’s number one retailer for fine food delicacies, the latest retail data from Roy Morgan shows.

Over the last five years, Roy Morgan Research has surveyed over 72,000 grocery buyers (14+) — half of whom had made a recent purchase from a deli aisle or counter.

In the 12 months to March 2015, 6.7 million Australian grocery buyers together spent around $91 million on delicatessen items in an average seven days, up from 6.4 million weekly shoppers (and $73 million spent) four years ago.

Woolworths retains the largest share of the market, with 43 per cent of deli shoppers now buying at least some of their week’s supply of deli goods there, down marginally from 44.1 per cent in 2011. But rival Coles has been making steady gains, halving the gap from 12.6 per cent points to 6.3 per cent over the period.

Coles now supplies deli items to 36.7 per cent of deli shoppers, up from 31.5 per cent in 2011.

IGAs and delicatessens have also lost a bit of ground. While 840,000 grocery buyers bought deli items at an IGA in the last week, representing 12.5 per cent of deli shoppers (down from 13.4 per cent in 2011), 540,000 shopped at a dedicated, stand-alone deli (8.1 per cent, down from 9 per cent). Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2010 – March 2015.

“Over the last five years, only Coles has made any headway in the all-important delicatessen market,” says Andrew Price, general manager consumer products, Roy Morgan Research. “The proportion of grocery buyers who buy deli goods in an average week has remained steady at around 50 per cent since 2011—which means competition, not market growth, is the only way to gain shoppers.

“The deli is also a vital battleground for Coles and Woolworths as it’s an arena where no-frills discount players like Aldi (and soon Lidl)—with minimal staff and no deli counter—don’t compete in the same way.”

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