The imminent enlargement of the European Union with ten new countries set to join over the next couple of years should present real growth opportunities for grocery retailers in emerging markets.

Verdict believes that Carrefour, Tesco and Metro are best placed to benefit from the enlargement of the EU, given their growing international trading expertise, multi-format operations and “deep pockets”.

Verdict, in its latest report, European Grocers 2003, estimated the total grocery spending - covering food, drink and tobacco - across the EU amounted to 864bn euros in 2002.

The report said the two grocers that stand out with the most developed multi-dimensional trading strategies are Carrefour and Tesco.

Carrefour had sales of 61bn euros in the EU in 2002 - a market share of 7.3% - compared to sales at Tesco of 36bn euros and a 4.3% share.

Verdict said the key issues for grocery retailers will become: improving the efficiency of their supply chains, driving productivity initiatives and increasing sales volumes, targeting non-food sales, corporate merger and acquisition activity and developing their multi-faceted trading strengths.