Grocery Headquarters‘ annual State of the Industry Almanac takes a comprehensive look at dozens of supermarket categories.
Every day, consumers are inundated, across multiple mediums, with messaging and advertisements for the latest and greatest food items to be found in the local grocery store. As shoppers walk down the aisles they must decide whether or not they want to invest in that new flavor of chips and soft drink or stick with ole’ faithful.
In Grocery Headquarters’ annual State of the Industry Almanac, published in conjunction with IRI, we share the top brands consumers purchased—and how much of it—across a multitude of categories, for the year ended January 26.
So what are shoppers choosing?
Some of the newer products that flew off retailer shelves include Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt, Kellogg’s Special K Pastry Crisps and Eight O’Clock K-Cups. Long-standing brands such as Prego spaghetti sauce and Cheetos continue to do well, leading sales in their respective categories.
“Consumers still want new products because they love trying new things,” says one supplier. “Our job is to make sure that we keep the pipeline open and flowing with items that will get consumers excited. That said, it seems that name brands are as important as ever, if we market them correctly.”
The Almanac also takes a broader look at how individual categories are faring. For example, it is no secret that the country is amidst an obesity epidemic. The push toward helping people eat better is coming from all directions, ranging from local, state and federal governments to consumer packaged goods companies.
The result can be seen in sales of certain categories, such as yogurt. For the tracked period, yogurt sales approached $5 billion, an increase of 6.7%. Industry observers attributed the increase, in part, to the nation’s collective effort to slim down. Other categories that seem to benefit from the ongoing health trends include snack bars/granola bars, which was up 3.7% in dollars, totaling $2.3 billion, and 4.5% in units; refrigerated salads/coleslaw, up 7.7% in dollars, ($3.1 billion) and 5.3% in units; and spices and seasonings, up 4.1% in dollars, totaling $2.1 billion, and 3.1% in units.
“With flavor from herbs and spices, it’s easier to follow MyPlate and meet the Dietary Guidelines developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” says Laurie Harrsen, spokesperson for Hunt Valley, Md.-based McCormick & Co. “Herbs and spices make healthy foods like vegetables, whole grains and lean protein taste great while cutting back on added salt, fat and sugar.”
While the push toward better eating seems to be catching on, consumers showed there was still room for indulgence. Salty snacks, the fifth best selling supermarket category with sales upward of $9 billion and units approaching four billion, were up 4.0% and 3.2% respectively. Cookies, just outside the top 15, with sales of more than $3.4 billion and units at 1.5 billion, were up 3.4% and 3.6%, respectively. Chocolate sales remained strong as well. Dollars topped $3.3 billion, up 4.6%, while units increased 2.3%
Another trend significantly affecting sales is the growing popularity of ethnic foods. Influenced by the steady influx of television shows dedicated to exotic cuisines and consumers ever expanding palates, many retailers have created aisles dedicated to specific ethnic foods. Currently the most popular, according to IRI sales figures, is Mexican food. Mexican food sales at supermarkets generated $1.7 billion, up 2.6%, accounting for 820.8 million units, up 1.8%.
“We are teaming up with more and more suppliers to make sure we have the right type of product on the shelves,” says a Texas-based retailer. “That means products that fit today’s fickle consumer and today’s demanding consumer. So we have more ethnic foods, we have more natural foods and we have a greater selection of merchandise. Trust me, it is not easy to pull off.”
Three of the top four, four of the top seven and seven of the top 13 money making categories sold at the supermarket were beverages—and the results were mixed. Dollars (-3.7%) and units (-4.2%) were down for the $11 billion carbonated beverages segment. Observers say this could be due to consumers quest for better health and the big switch to water products, but more likely due to supermarkets losing sales to other channels such as dollar stores and drug stores. Milk sales, which totaled $10.5 billion, were flat to down as well.
On the plus side, alcohol sales did very well. The beer/ale/cider/segment was up 4.2% in dollars, pushing past the $9.2 billion mark, and wine sales approached $7.0 million, up 3.6%. Coffee sales were also strong, buoyed by the success of the single-serve category. Overall, coffee was up 4.6% in dollars ($4.4 billion) but an even more impressive 9.6% in units.
The following pages provide the top 5 vendors and top 10 brands for the chosen categories. We ask you to review the Almanac and let us know your thoughts. As always, we welcome the feedback.