Grated and sliced natural cheeses post steady sales gains
Sales are up and down across the natural cheese category, with certain subcategories standing out from the pack.
Natural cheese sales have been steady for subcategories such as slices and shreds, but others (crumbles, chunks) are struggling. Meanwhile, cheese spreads/balls saw a sales boost in the processed cheese category.
The natural cheese category saw dollar sales drop 0.2% to $12.9 billion and unit sales increase 0.3% to 3.9 billion for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 8, 2017, according to Chicago-based market research firm Information Resources Inc. (IRI). Despite a couple of subcategories seeing a sales boost, the processed cheese category still saw sales declines overall — dollar sales dropped 1.7% to $2.9 billion and unit sales decreased 3.4% to 755.5 million.
Among other subcategories, the natural cheese category includes:
- Shredded cheese ($4.7 billion, units up 1.5%)
- Chunks ($3.6 billion, units down 2.4%)
- Slices ($2.2 billion, units up 3%)
- String/stick ($1.3 billion, units down 2%)
- Refrigerated grated ($95.6 million, units up 4.8%)
- Among other subcategories, the processed cheese category includes:
- Processed/imitation cheese-slices ($1.7 billion, units down 4.6%)
- Cheese spreads/balls ($513 million, units up 2.4%)
- Processed/imitation cheese — loaf ($417.3 million, units down 8.3%)
- Processed/imitation cheese — all other ($128.9 million, units up 3.8%)
Natural cheese holds steady
Leading the category, the shredded cheese segment’s dollar sales were up 0.6% to $4.7 billion, and unit sales increased 1.5% to 1.5 billion.
Private label dominated the segment with $2.8 billion. Dollar sales rose 2.4% and unit sales were up 3.1% to 890.4 million.
Also among the top 10, Kraft Heinz saw dollar sales improve 3.6% and unit sales rise 4.9%. Sargento’s dollar sales dropped 10.4% and unit sales decreased 8.5%. Crystal Farms’ dollar and unit sales fell 6.4% and 2.4%, respectively. Taking a bigger hit, Borden (Dairy Farmers of America) saw dollar sales drop 24.6% and unit sales decrease 24.1%.
Two companies stood out with significant sales increases. Tillamook’s dollar sales jumped 16.2%, and its unit sales were up an impressive 24.8%. Likewise, Frigo (Saputo Cheese) enjoyed 21.7% and 16.2% increases in dollar and unit sales, respectively.
In the cheese slices segment, dollar sales improved 2.2% to $2.2 billion, and unit sales saw a 3% boost to 689.4 million.
Among the top 10, Sargento’s dollar sales were up 0.2% to $570.6 million, though unit sales fell 1.5% to 185.2 million. Kraft saw dollar sales fall 20.9% and unit sales drop 19.9%. It was a different story, though, in Kraft’s Cracker Barrel brand — dollar sales increased 7.6% and unit sales climbed 9.6%. Belgioioso’s dollar sales improved 6.9% and unit sales were up 5.9%.
Struggling was Borden, which saw dollar sales drop 13.1% and unit sales decrease 5.4%.
Meanwhile, the refrigerated grated cheese segment’s dollar sales ticked up 3.3% to $95.9 million, and unit sales increased 4.8% to 26 million. Coming up second in the top 10, behind private label ($46.7 million), Belgioioso saw impressive sales increases — dollar sales rose 37.5% to $11.9 million, and unit sales jumped 42.2% to 2.8 million.
Several others stood out among the top 10. El Mexicano (Marquez Brothers International) enjoyed a 43.7% dollar sales boost, and unit sales jumped 50.8%. Dollar sales increased 40.5% for Stella (Saputo Cheese), and unit sales climbed 42.8%. FUD (Sigma Alimentos) saw dollar and unit sales rise 44.6% and 45.1%, respectively.
Sartori struggled, with dollar and unit sales down 2.5% and 2.3%, respectively.
Cheese spreads whip up sales
The cheese spreads/balls segment showed promise, with dollar sales up 4% to $513 million and unit sales up 2.4%. Though The Laughing Cow (Bel Brands USA) led the segment with $100.4 million, dollar sales dropped 2.7% and unit sales fell 1.5% to 30.9 million. Showing promise was Palmetto Cheese (Get Carried Away), with dollar sales up 17.7% and unit sales increasing 16.9%. Also, Boursin (Bel Brands USA) saw dollar and unit sales jump 33.9% and 34.9%, respectively.