Tim Witcherley

Food delisting: Why the future of food manufacturing is customer-centric

by Tim Witcherley on July 20, 2015

If there was ever a need for food manufacturers to develop a customer-centric approach to developing and marketing their products, it’s now.

While the process of retailers removing, or delisting, food products from their shelves is now commonplace, there appears to be no let-up on the number of food products being delisted. There’s hardly a day goes by when a well-known brand hasn’t been dropped from a supermarket shelf.


Take Kingsmill, for instance. The bread giant recently hit the headlines for being delisted by Tesco from its 3,000 British stores and online. It was reportedly given the chop after Tesco reviewed its ranges to ensure they met the needs of its customers. And it’s very much the same, or a very similar story, for many other major supermarkets and well-known suppliers.

What can food manufacturers learn from delisting? (1) The grocery industry is rapidly evolving and (2) food manufacturers need to ensure their products meet the needs of retailers and consumers and are ‘range review ready’ by:

  • Meeting retailers’ and consumers’ needs
  • Gathering and sharing data with retailers to help inform category and range review planning
  • Showing they’re influencing consumers

The Saucy Fish Co did just this – and they were relisted by Tesco just months after being dropped by the supermarket. Importantly, it was their data analysis that reportedly triggered the spectacular U-turn.

They were able to show that consumers were choosing to shop at other stores (after Tesco had delisted its products), a move that contributed to a dip in overall protein spend at Tesco. They were also able to provide evidence demonstrating that their brand attracted a lot of younger shoppers that Tesco was missing out on.

The days of just supplying a quality product are gone. Food manufacturers need to look at how their brand can add real value to retailers. Focusing on your consumer data enables you to justify your worth to retailers as well as develop insight-based recommendations.

With the grocery sector shrinking for the first time in 20 years (Kantar Worldpanel), competition for shelf space has entered a whole new category. For details on how you can strengthen your offering and demonstrate true brand value to retailers, download our free eguide, ‘How food manufacturers can demonstrate true brand value.’

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Tim Witcherley

This post was written by Tim Witcherley

As the Managing Director of Cognition, Tim's drive is to ensure every Cognition client gets tangible, commercial outcomes. In increasingly complex marketing and sales environments, his relentless focus on delivering value, quickly and simply, is one of the main reasons why Cognition is now one of the UK's leading digital agencies.

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