‘Big Food’ enjoying sustained sales uplifts as consumers stay home

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According to Nielsen data collated by Bernstein, sales were strongest at McCormick (+29.9%), Tyson Foods (+16.5%), Conagra Brands (+14.0%), General Mills (+12.2%), Campbell Soup Co (+10.8%) and Kraft Heinz (+10.3%), over the four-week period, while sales at Kellogg (+6.9%), JM Smucker (+6.6%), Hershey (+7.5%) and Mondelez (+6.1%) “were more muted.”

McCormick continued to experience the strongest overall sales growth at +29.9% as herbs and spices and dry seasoning saw sales growth of +45.6% and +35.4%, respectively. Conagra Brands saw strong sauce sales growth of about 12% and frozen entrees sales growth of +12.7%.

Strong gains for canned soup, herbs and spices, non-chocolate candy; declining sales of gum, cereal bars

Campbell Soup’s canned soup sales grew +19% year-on-year over the four week period to August 8, while General Mills posted moderate growth in ready to eat cereal (+5.2%) and continued strong growth in dough (+41.9%) though sales were weaker in cereal bars (-4.8%).

Campbell Soup’s canned soup sales grew +19% year-on-year over the four week period to August 8

At Kraft Heinz, cheese (+10.6%) and refrigerated entrees (+13.4%) continued their strong sales growth, while lunchmeat (+7.4%) had a strong month following negative sales in June and flat sales in July.

At Mondelez, sales of cookies (+8.6%), non-chocolate candy (+12.6%), and crackers (+11.7%) grew nicely, though gum sales (-27.5%) were “meaningfully negative​,” said Bernstein. Hershey, in turn, posted strong sales of chocolate candy (+10.4%) and non-chocolate candy (+7.2%).

At Kellogg, cereal sales were up +7.4% while cereal bar and granola bar sales were down significantly (- 16.1%).

At JM Smucker, coffee was up +6.7% and peanut butter sales were flat after two months of negative growth.

Simply Good Foods Co (Atkins, Quest Nutrition, Simply Protein) generated positive sales growth of +6.8% in the four week period. While bar sales declined -6.3% and shakes were down – 7.3% due to reduced on-the-go snacks consumption, this was offset by an +83.9% growth in treats.

“Frozen food sales are likely to remain highly elevated for the foreseeable future…” Source: IRI total US MULO, week ending August 9, 2020, vs same period one year ago

IRI, 210 Analytics: ‘The performance of frozen food has been exceptional throughout the pandemic’

Stepping back and looking at the entire grocery store, frozen food has continued to outpace other categories with sales up 17.1% year-on-year in the week ending August 9, ahead of meat (+15%), dairy (+12%), produce (+10%) and bakery (+6%), according to data from IRI and 210 Analytics.

The performance of frozen food has been exceptional throughout the pandemic in dollars, volume and units and far exceeded other areas of the store. Between the continued social distancing mandates, highly elevated consumer concern about the virus, economic pressure and the impact of virtual schooling, frozen food sales are likely to remain highly elevated for the foreseeable future.”

‘Dollar gains easily outpace volume gains in all areas’

“Beef prices were still the most elevated versus a year ago…” Picture: Gettyimages-SStajic

As for pricing, “Dollar gains easily outpace volume gains in all areas, indicating continued inflationary** conditions,” ​said IRI and 210 Analytics, particularly in the meat case.

IRI insights on the price per volume shows prices are still elevated but coming down, with the exception of chicken and pork prices that were up slightly. However, the year-over-year comparison shows that pork prices were virtually back in line with 2019 levels the week of August 2. 

“Beef prices were still the most elevated versus a year ago, but also down to single digits…Chicken is the only protein that has a higher year-over-year increase in the one-week look versus the four-week look.”

*Source: Nielsen’s Scantrack enhanced AOC+C, Bernstein analysis. Straight average across Conagra Brands, Campbell Soup Co, General Mills, Hershey, Kellogg, Kraft Heinz, Mondelez International, McCormick, Tyson Foods and JM Smucker.  The data excludes Simply Good Foods Co, Hain Celestial, and Beyond Meat.

**According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food at home consumer price index increased 4.6% over the last 12 months, with particularly strong increases in prices of meats, poultry, fish, and eggs.  

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