Processors are bringing back items whose production had been suspended during the pandemic.
The average number of SKUs sold at supermarkets stood at 19,285 for the 13 weeks ending July 31, a 2.5% increase from the same period in 2020, according to Nielsen. The average during that period in 2020 was a 4.5% decline year-over-year from 2019.
At the height of the pandemic, as consumers were stocking shelves, many processors cut back on or eliminated marginal products and SKUs to concentrate on mainstream items that were suddenly in high demand. Now, some high-profile food companies are reversing course:
- J.M. Smucker has resumed full production on some peanut-butter SKUs, such as Simply Jif, Reduced Fat and Omega 3, that had been scaled back. Smucker also restored some varieties of Uncrustables frozen sandwiches, including hazelnut, honey, peanut butter and reduced sugar.
- Bumble Bee’s SKU count now stands at 307 items, after it had been cut back to 225 last year. It has launched new items, including tuna bowls and snacks.
- General Mills had pared SKUs for Progresso Soup from 90 down to 50. Those items have been restored.
“The death of variety that everyone was predicting didn’t happen. It has come back in full force,” Krishnakumar Davey, president of IRI’s strategic analytics practice, told CNN.