During the last few years, some broad sales trends across all the dairy segments have held steady. Yogurt is consistently strong. Natural cheese is growing when supply and price pressures aren’t a factor. Milk has been trying to make a comeback and more recently looks like it has succeeded.
This month we look more closely at smaller sub-categories that are particularly hot, while keeping an eye on the broader successes.
The first hot spot is crumbled cheese, a sub-category that not so long ago was doing less than $40 million a quarter. But, recent quarterly numbers from Information Resources Inc., show crumbled cheese really taking off. Growth of 20, 30 even close to 40% by unit boosted dollar sales totals above $50 million a quarter for two periods in 2006. These numbers are for food, drugstore and mass merchandisers, not including Wal-Mart.
This is for natural crumbled cheese of course, and that broader category grew unit sales by more than 5% in each of the last three quarters.
Another near constant has been the shrinkage of the innovative subcategory of frozen yogurt. Well, here’s a big surprise-frozen yogurt is back in the growth column. The last two quarters of 2006 saw considerable growth, particularly in terms of dollar sales. During the 52 weeks ended Jan. 28, private label, which leads all brands in market share, experienced measurable growth, and several top brands had tremendous results. The category was still flat for the full year, but if growth holds into the first quarter, it could be a sign of a changing tide for frozen yogurt.
In Dairy Foods’ February Milk and Beverage Outlook we brought you some good news about the milk category, and recent numbers from IRI offer further confirmation. In the final quarter of 2006, unit sales for all milk grew 0.6% while units of lowfat and skim were up 1.8% compared to the same period a year before. Dairy Market Trends will take a comprehensive look at milk in April.
Looking at quarterly sales of all types of yogurt, the story just keeps getting better. Looking back to 2004, yogurt sales totaled somewhere between $550 million and $650 million a quarter, by IRI’s numbers, and around $750 million units were sold each quarter. In 2006, dollar sales topped $800 million in three of four quarters, and the growth rate of unit and dollar sales increased in the last half of the year. If the trend continues, the industry could be moving more than 1 billion units a quarter through these IRI channels before long. To find out more about what’s driving yogurt sales, watch for Dairy Foods’ Cultured Product Trends cover story in April 2007.