Cheese Sales Rise 7%, No Matter How You Slice It
Sales in the natural cheese category were up 7% last year, with shredded cheese outpacing the industry. But overall, unit sales were weak.
For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 22, the natural cheese category saw increases in dollar sales (7%), unit sales (0.6%) and an average price increase of 20 cents according to Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group.
Shredded cheese leads the category with $2.8 billion in sales, a 10% increase from the previous period. Unit sales were up by almost 2%. In the segment, Philadelphia from Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill., posted the largest percent increase in dollar sales – jumping 480% to $44.7 million. Others seeing increases in dollar sales were Borden (Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, Mo.) (21.5%); and Crystal Farms, Lake Mills, Wis. (13%). Private label was up 11% to $1.6 billion.
The natural chunks segment saw dollar sales increase 5% to $2.6 billion and an average price increase of 24 cents but unit sales decreased 2%. Private label leads the segment and saw a 7% increase in dollar sales. Four brands posted 11% gains — Boars Head Provisions Co., Sarasota, Fla. (15%); Cabot Vermont (Cabot Creamery Inc.); Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based Bel Brands USA’s Laughing Cow Mini Babybel; and Crystal Farms. Kraft’s Cracker Barrelsaw both dollar sales and unit sales slip, 2% and 8% respectively.
Natural slices edged up 7% in dollar sales to $1 billion with unit sales up 4%. In the No. 1 spot, private label posted a 15% increase in dollar sales and a 9% increase in unit sales. Dollar and unit sales were down (47% and 45%) for Kraft’s Deli Fresh. Kraft was down 32% in dollar sales. Sargento Deli Style from Sargento Food Co., Plymouth, Wis., also posted a 19% dollar sales decrease.
Unit sales dropped 2% in the natural string/stick cheese segment, but an average price increase of 33 cents helped boost the segment’s dollar sales 9% to $691 million. Kraft posted the largest gains: dollar sales were up 213%, unit sales up 251%. Kraft’s Polly Owas up 42% in both dollars and unit sales.
Mixed results in processed cheese
In the $2.2 billion processed cheese category, a 19 cents average price increase boosted dollar sales up 3% while unit sales slipped by the same amount. The category’s largest segment – processed imitation cheese slices – had an average price increase of 18 cents. Dollar sales were up 2% to $1.3 billion and unit sales dropped 4%. Of the top 10 brands, Crystal Farms posted the largest dollar sales gain (14.1%).