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%).