IRI Announces Top-Selling New Food and Beverage Products of 2016

With numbers tracking lower, smaller companies and niched products are having an impact on sales of IRI's New Product Pacesetters.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

It’s only a rebranding of an age-old product, but Dean Foods' DairyPure milk easily captured first-place on IRI's annual New Product Pacesetters, the market data firm's annual list of the biggest-selling new products of the past year.

National dairy Dean Foods decided in mid-2015 to consolidate its many regional brands of "white milk" under the one umbrella, in the process making its "Five-Point Purity Promise": "No Artificial Growth Hormones, All milk is tested for antibiotics, Continually quality tested to ensure purity, From cows fed a healthy diet and Cold shipped fresh from your local dairy."

So while Garelick Farms and Mayfield Dairy remain on some labels, those formerly independent companies and brands are subordinate to DairyPure. And overnight the new brand became a billion-dollar brand — actually hitting $1.163 billion in year-one sales, according to IRI. By the way, DairyPure Creamers placed eighth with nearly $55 million in sales.

Rising StarsDairyPure also plays to the antibiotic free (ABF) movement, playing out primarily in the meat, poultry and dairy categories.

To be considered for Pacesetters, the product must have completed a full year of sales some time in calendar year 2016. IRI starts tracking year-one sales after a product reaches 30 percent of national distribution across multi-outlet geography. This means grocery, drug, mass, dollar stores, club and convenience store channels.

As for truly new brands and products, Dunkin' Donuts K-cups (made by J.M. Smucker Co.) broke $204 million in first-year sales. Although largely a Midwestern phenomenon, Not Your Father's Root Beer, an alcoholic version of the soft drink, placed third with $114.6 million in sales. While there were hard sodas before, Not Your Father's caused enough of a stir to make MillerCoors launch the Henry's Hard Soda line … which placed 10th on the Pacesetters list with $50.3 million in sales.

There's a healthy-eating theme running through some of the remaining new products. Oreo Thins (No. 4) is a portion-controlled, lower-calorie twist on the indulgent classic. Oscar Mayer Naturals (No. 7) are packaged, sliced luncheon meats with no artificial ingredients. Sargento Balanced Breaks (No. 9) combine natural cheeses with nuts and fruits for a high-protein snack.

Artesano BreadArtesano is a thick-sliced premium bread from Sara Lee (and Bimbo Bakeries USA). Screamin' Sicilian is another Midwestern phenomenon, the result of an in-your-face marketing campaign by longtime Milwaukee pizza-maker Palermo's.

"Thousands of new brands hit retail shelves during 2016, with 80 percent of the top-ranking brands hailing from small and midsized manufacturers and accounting for 64 percent of Pacesetter dollars," reports IRI. "Overall, the top-selling 200 new brands captured cumulative year-one sales of more than $5.8 billion across IRI’s multi-outlet geography. For the top 100 food and beverage champions, median year-one dollar sales were $11.4 million, down from $19.6 million in 2015.

Those are just the grocery-store numbers. A separate list tracks top new products in the convenience store channel. DairyPure placed first there, too, and Not Your Father's Root Beer came in at eight. Energy drinks often dominate this channel. Red Bull, a perennial top-seller, debuted The Summer Edition. Rockstar placed two new products in the top 10: Boom and Freeze. Monster launched Ultra Black. And Amp Energy came it at No. 10 with Zero. Those last two also are lighter or lower-calorie products. Top launches in C-stores averaged $23.4 million in first-year sales.

IRI also tracks non-food new product launches, where allergy spray Flonase ran away with $316.5 million in sales. Gillette Fusion ProShield razors and Garnier SkinActive facial care products were the only others to break $100 million in first-year sales. New non-food brands worthy of IRI's tracking averaged $17.6 million in year-one sales.

If the overall numbers and median year-one sales are tracking lower, IRI sees no reason for alarm.

“Technology and know-how are allowing CPG marketers to not only understand consumer needs and wants, but also to respond to them more effectively than ever before,” says Larry Levin, executive vice president of Consumer and Shopper Marketing for IRI. “As a result, average year-one dollar sales from even the most impactful new product launches are continuing to decline, a trend we noted in Pacesetters during the last couple years. Certainly, mega launches surpassing $100 million are still occurring, but the brands in the middle of the pack are getting the squeeze as smaller, more targeted brands are capturing a growing share of Pacesetter sales.”

Read the full “2016 New Product Pacesetters” report 

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