Pacesetters: IRI's Top-Selling Products of 2005

IRI’s top-selling products of 2005 deliver lessons (good and bad) in taste, nutrition, convenience and performance.

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Sales from each brand's launch through 12/26/05, with estimates for total year-one sales.


2005 was an extraordinarily challenging year, according to IRI. Beverages, including sports drinks, bottled waters, coffee and wine, were the stars. That category posted a 5.1 increase in sales, compared to only 1.6 percent in total CPG dollar sales. So it isn't surprising that five of next year's Pacesetters (to date) are in the beverage category.

2005 Category Growth Heroes

  Growth in sales, 2005 vs. 2004 Percent change
1. Bottled water (still) $591 25%
2. Sports drinks 253 21
3. Energy drinks 174 67
4. Refrigerated side dishes and pkgd. fruit/vegs 159 37
5. Single-serve tea/coffee 154 20
6. Frozen multi-serve dinners 109 13
Source: IRI InfoScan Reviews; food, drug and mass channels (excluding Wal-Mart


In 2005, certain categories were growth heroes. They include beverages, refrigerated side dishes and packaged fruits and vegetables and frozen dinners.

Trendwatching with IRI

IRI has identified eight important trends and how they continue to morph in new product development:

  • Convenient meal solutions for large and small households.
      Five years ago, new products included dry and frozen meal kits (skillet and oven) and refrigerated prepared meats. From 2004 to 2006, Pacesetters included quick side dishes, slow cooker kits and flexible servings. Looking ahead over the next five years, convenient meal solutions will focus on better nutrition, chef-inspired recipes and fast preparation, a la sophisticated frozen meals.

  • Healthier eating goals lead to natural/organic.
      Led by specialty manufacturers five years ago, this category went mainstream beginning in 2004. Future focus will be on food origins and pure and authentic ingredients.

  • Up with whole grains, down with "bad" fats.
      Animal fat (cholesterol), 30 percent fat content and carbs were bad five years ago. Today, no level of trans fat is deemed safe and saturated fat remains a villain. Empty carbs/calories are being avoided, but whole grains for fiber and nutrients are good. Walker predicts the growth of foods containing fiber, as well as "good" fats and foods with slowly absorbed carbs (low GI).

  • Better nutrition per calorie in foods and snacks.
      Five years ago, better-for-you products were limited to reductions in fat, sugar and calories. Nutritional additives included calcium and vitamin C. Today, there's a move away from empty calories. Nutritional foods taste better thanks to new technologies, and heart-health additives, including vitamins A, C and E and omega-3 fatty acids, proliferate. Fortifications coming to the forefront include choline for brain power and antioxidants such as lutein and lycopene.

  • Some occasions create cravings, demand indulgences.
      Fresh and indulgent were the buzzwords five years ago. Now we want it fresh from the oven, and desire a premium indulgence. That should not change over the next few years - there will be more extensions of indulgence brands like Dove chocolate.

  • Evolution of convenient product and packaging.
      One-handed, on-the-go eating was the rule five years ago, with no extra ingredients or utensils required. Today we want fresh fruits and vegetables with convenient and right-sized packaging, such as Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs. Consumers will see more packaged produce with longer shelf life and packaging innovations.

  • Light/reduced calories in beverages.
      Thanks to new ingredients, light and low-calorie beverages are tasting closer to their full-calorie originals. Also, look for more nutritional enhancement, especially for brain power.

  • Flavors and feelings.
    Five years ago, Hispanic products containing hot peppers heated up the shelves. Kiwi-strawberry, white grape, cranberry were the flavors du jour, and more energy was what we wanted. Today, high-antioxidant fruits such as pomegranate and blueberry, white tea (rather than green tea) and Hispanic tropical fruits not only give us energy, but are soothing as well. More superfruits like acai are on the way, along with more interest in fruits and vegetables in general. Look for more grapefruit, herb/mint/floral flavors, enhanced scents and spices such as anise, smoked paprika and chai.
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