These days, pinching pennies and clipping coupons has become a mainstream event to many Americans, especially when shopping for higher-end products.

Table 1.

Cheaper Way Out

These days, pinching pennies and clipping coupons has become a mainstream event to many Americans, especially when shopping for higher-end products.

Historically, store brands are category leaders, as most consumers reach for the value-priced option in the dairy case of their national or regional chain supermarket.

But in today’s economy, private labels are saving the day – and several bank accounts – by providing premium goods at a lower cost, and cultured products are no exception.

According to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), a Chicago-based market research firm, private label sales are dominating several products within the cultured dairy segment.

Table 2.

For starters, private label cottage cheese is trumping the second-in-line contender Breakstone’s by $26 million, per IRI results, and taking up about 44% of the category overall.

In the sour cream segment, private label is again leading in sales, with Daisy in second place and Breakstone’s in third, at $84 million behind private label.

Private label also is commanding the refrigerated dips lineup with a 13.2% increase in dollar sales over a year ago, according to IRI statistics. This represents something of a historical shift, as consumers tend to gravitate toward branded dips since they’re most often a party item openly served in the original packaging.

However, yogurt is a different story; private label trails category leader Yoplait Original by about $6 million in sales, with Yoplait Light in third place about $33 million behind its sister product.

Private label products are only as good as their manufacturer (which often is also a branded processor), especially when up against FDA regulations, food safety scares and changing consumer demands.

The perennial bridesmaid of the cultured category, cottage cheese – which experienced a brief renaissance during the low-carb craze – remains popular among dieters and body builders for its high protein content. But sales data suggests its core consumers aren’t very brand-conscious, and they’re relying in greater numbers on private label brands to curb their appetites as well as their pocketbooks.

Pie Chart

On the other hand, consumers are turning to other branded cultured products, like yogurt, the overall category’s senior member with sales exceeding $3.7 billion, for the value-added promises they make. Brands such as Dannon’s Activia, Yoplait and Weight Watchers, which dominate the rankings, offer claims of probiotics, calcium, fiber and other functional ingredients to entice health-conscious consumers.

Refrigerated dips bring in the second-highest volume of sales standing at $451 million. Although private label tops the chart, other product items such as T. Marzetti, Dean’s, Heluva Good, Wholly Guacamole, Kraft and Calavo are positioned within the top seven slots. In fact, Wholly Guacamole raked in a 207% rise in dollar sales from a year ago.

All in all, private label products continue to rake in the sales and keep the economy alive – at least among cultured products – as they provide cost-efficient solutions to those in need of a healthy diet.