It’s no secret that the center of the store has faced some challenges in the past few years. That doesn’t mean, however, that consumers aren’t interested in center store items. In fact, we’ve seen many cases where variants of products traditionally found in the center of the store are finding success across other aisles.
Regular measurement of these adjacent opportunities enables an accurate assessment of your product portfolio. Making business decisions without a full picture of the store can be a costly mistake. With a full view of the food landscape, those blind spots can be eliminated. Here are some cases in point for why fresh opportunities can’t be overlooked.
MEASUREMENT BEYOND YOUR AISLE
Consumer dollars and interests have moved in all directions, shifting the balance of opportunities along with them. Take ready-to-eat soup as an example. The staple varieties found in grocery aisles of the store have performed moderately, with sales increasing by 1% to over $1.7 billion this year. This is a telling trend in isolation, but a broader total store view adds invaluable context to help size and recognize the potential of fresh soups.
Consumers don’t always have ample pantry space for extensive stock-ups, and some are seeking a fresh alternative. As a result, perimeter soup sales are on the rise. In fact, over $1 in $4 spent on ready-to-eat soup occurs within the deli-prepared perimeter of the store. Furthermore, annual deli-prepared soup sales exceed $500 million, and sales this year are over 16% higher than they were this time last year. So manufacturers and retailers should be actively monitoring all avenues for growth with soup consumers.
MULTI-FACETED CONSUMER NEEDS
Although Americans would rank eating more fruits and vegetables as the top factor for healthy eating, they’re not flocking to on-the-go fresh produce offerings as much as they are to other snack options. Salty snacks are a prime example of an indulgent category that’s seen growth amid countless healthful consumer crazes. Seeing nearly $1 billion in growth year-over-year, salty snacks are proof that consumers are seeking indulgence in their snacking purchases, too.
But consumers can achieve indulgence with minimal guilt or neglect of one’s diet. The path to this middle ground between good and bad is guided by transparent products manufactured in simple, sustainable and clean ways. In fact, “clean” products are driving outsized growth across many indulgent snack categories. With clean label snacking products, consumers can feel reassured that they’re avoiding undesirable or artificial ingredients, and are therefore more easily enticed to treat themselves.
FRESH PRODUCT FORMATS
Not all indulgent foods have diverged from fresh food beginnings in the way that snacking trends have affected on-the-go produce. In fact, the impressive performance of burgers, an American favorite, has much of its success grounded in fresh perspectives. On the whole, burger sales across the store have reached $3.3 billion. Compared to a year ago, burger sales have grown a healthy 5% in dollars and 6% in unit volume. In identifying where the growth in burgers originates, it’s clear that fresh uncooked and prepared burgers are asserting their importance to the future of the category, growing by 8% and 15%, respectively, in dollars year-over-year.
While 94% of burger sales are attributed to meat-based burgers, the last year has seen a complete reversal in performance for burgers made from meat alternatives. Sales of alternative-protein burgers are growing at nearly 21% in dollars. As the popularity of plant-based foods continues to rise, the importance of meat alternatives in the burger space is expected to rise with it.
So, regardless of your product purview, maintaining a keen eye on fresh commodities in the store can help capitalize on synergies with key ingredients.
For additional insights, download our latest Total Consumer report.