Some inconvenient truths

Oscar Meyer Delifresh bold smallHere they are:

  • Most people still prefer animal products over plant products.
  • People don’t always want clean label.

And those two statements are proven by sales figures that anyone can find in the IRI New Product Pacesetters Report.

Published every year for the last 18 years, it provides a very clear snapshot, based on hard facts, about the changing state of innovation in the American grocery market.

IRI is a Chicago-based organisation which is perhaps best-known as a provider of supermarket scanning data – data which is by far the most reliable way to understand the size of any market.

IRI’s newly-published report identifies the ten most successful new product launches of 2015. These 10 top-selling brands had combined sales of $923.9 million (€807 million).

Here are some salient facts revealed by the report:

Most people are perfectly happy with animal-based products. Despite the growing attacks on animal-based foods, mainstream America is still very happy with animal-based foods, which account for six of the 10 most-successful new products of 2015, totaling $563 million (€492 million) of the value of all sales of Top-10 products, equivalent to 61% of the total.

In fact, people want meat more than plants. While plant-based foods is a trend, it still seems to be one for the lifestyle consumer and has less impact on the mass market than is claimed. Two meat-based brands – Oscar Meyer Deli Fresh Bold luncheon meats and Chili’s At Home frozen meals, based on chicken – made it into the Top-10 new launches, with combined retail sales of $225.1 million (€197 million), accounting for 24% of total Top-10 new product sales.

The four plant-based foods that made it into the top-10 are a standard white bread, a processed breakfast cereal, a juice and coffee – all pretty traditional and established types and a far remove from the cool image of plant-based foods found in health food stores.

With the exception of the coffee, these plant-based products are outsold by the animal-based products.

Dairy is still bigger than non-dairy. Remarkably, Greek yoghurt-inspired products continue to do well, with just two Greek brands accounting for 20% of the total sales of Top-10 products. In fact, dairy products appear to be holding their own in the mass market at least, with four dairy brands in the Top-10, accounting for $345 million (€301 million) in sales, equivalent to 37% of the sales of all Top-10 brands.

If it tastes good, it’s convenient and the price is fair, most people will look past the ingredient list. It’s become an unchallengeable truth in the minds of some brand mangers that people demand clean label and launching a product that doesn’t meet that expectation is a sure road to failure.

Except that isn’t always true. Breyers’s Gelato Indulgences, for example, which was the 8th most-successful new product launch of 2015, earning over $66 million (€57 million) in first year sales, has between 19 and 23 ingredients (depending on the flavour). Some of these are ingredients that consultants and the media assure us consumers reject.

In fact 6 of the 10 top-sellers have more than 15 ingredients – and one has over 30.

So don’t lose sleep over whether you are keeping up with the trends. In food and beverage trends emerge slowly. Many take a long time to make it to the mass market, some never do.

For most people great taste, convenience and price are still at the top of their list.

Posted in Editorial, Mainsite

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