Milk numbers have played a bit of hide and seek recently, despite a return to "normal" retail price levels. But refrigerated coffee drinks have really taken a bath, while ice cream and refrigerated dips have held pretty steady.
Measured by unit, quarterly sales of white milk at all fat levels have declined in each of the last six quarters. For the first two quarters of last year, those declines were barely measurable at less than 1% by unit, but in the third quarter unit sales were down 2.9%. These numbers, from Information Resources Inc., are for food, drugstore and mass merchandiser sales, but do not include Wal-Mart. As milk prices jumped in 2004, unit sales dropped, but in the last two quarters both dollar sales and unit sales have been lower than in the same period in the prior year.
Looking at the top 10 brands of refrigerated coffee drinks is rather frightful, but it must be said that this is a very small category (note that the numbers in the table represent thousands, not millions), and one that is more suited to convenience channel sales. The Folgers Jakada brand, which is manufactured by Dean Foods, is the top brand in IRI's scans, and still has about 48% of the market share despite a 52-week sales shrinkage of more than 75%. Other brands are growing substantially, although it is from a smaller base. It should be noted too, that Starbucks and other brands are sold in the soft drink aisle, so it's likely that the bulk of their sales are not included here.
Ice cream sales offer a slightly sweeter picture, with unit sales flat or growing just slightly, and something resembling an actual jump being recorded in the most recent quarter included. This category definition is ice cream only, and does not include novelties, sorbet or frozen yogurt.
Finally, we turn our attention to a category many dairy processors compete in-refrigerated dips. The overall category saw a bit of a jump in dollar sales in the 52 weeks leading up to Oct. 30, but unit sales slipped by about 1%.
Individual brands (IRI points out these are not necessarily a total of all SKUs for a given brand name) included some winners and some losers. T. Marzetti actually outsells private label. No. 3 Deans lost some share during the period, while No. 4 Heluva Good had some gains, at least in terms of dollar sales.