Dairy Market Trends
While ice cream sales have grown steadily in recent months, sherbet and sorbet have certainly not been left behind. Meanwhile, in the flavored milk category, overall growth remains strong while the leading brands elbow for position.
The sherbet and ices category, as defined by Information Resources Inc. has grown in the last seven quarters in terms of both unit and dollar sales. Those numbers represent a comparison of each quarter to the same quarter in the previous year.
Dollar growth was strongest in the quarter ended Sept. 2001, with an 11.4% spike. But that growth has stayed strong. The quarter ended Sept. 22, 2002 showed another 5.7% jump.
Unit sales grew more slowly in each quarter, but were up an average of more than 3% for each of the last seven quarters through September of last year.
Looking at flavored milk, the top ten brands, like the overall category, reflect the great growth potential that has the industry so excited, but they also reflect a lot of volatility. Some brands like Deans and Barbers gave up considerable share for the 52-week period ended Dec. 1, 2002, while brands like Hiland and Prairie Farms grew dramatically.
This can probably be attributed to the changes at Dean Foods during the period and the introduction of products by the cooperative brands. Private label dollar sales grew by more than 10% as both large and small retailers continued to embrace the category. Keep in mind that these figures do not represent convenience store or food service sales.
While sherbet and flavored milk are thriving, cottage cheese appears to have turned sluggish in the past three quarters with unit sales down in all three quarters and dollar sales dropping in the most recent. But third quarter sales of $233 million were off just slightly from a particularly strong third quarter in 2001, so perhaps the news is not so bad.
Finally, the top ten brands of natural cheese reflect some trends similar to what is happening in flavored milk, with strong private label growth and volatility among the brands do to changes in the industry. Like flavored milk, the overall category grew dollar sales by more than 5% in the 52-weeks leading up to Dec. 1, 2002, while private label offerings grew at about twice that rate.