Carbonated soft drinks topped the list of all packaged goods purchased in the US this year, according to research on consumer trends by The Nielsen Company, while strong sales for ready-to-eat cereals stress a preference for convenience.
The trend results showed that soft drinks, refrigerated milk, ready-to-eat cereal, fresh bread, bottled water and cookies were amongst the ten consumer packaged goods that generated the most sales.
Cereals generated sales of $7.7bn putting the products fourth in the list of top ten packaged goods sold in US retail stores. Furthermore, 92 percent of American households purchased the product at least once in the year, placing it sixth in the list of all packaged goods purchased in the US.
Indeed, these end-of-year figures are supported by market research on consumer trends that emerged during 2007.
In October, market researcher NPD Group released information showing quick and easy breakfast products remain the most popular items chosen by moms with young children. Its annual Eating Patterns in America study reported that the top ten breakfast foods given to kids under six today are virtually the same as they were six years ago.
This demonstrates a partiality for convenience and speed in Americans' busy lifestyles. Added to this are medical findings showing health benefits of breakfasts containing fiber and wholegrain.
For example, research has suggested that eating a bowl of wholegrain cereal every day could reduce the risk of heart failure by 27 percent, and a breakfast high in insoluble fiber could aid weight loss by reducing appetite.
These findings are increasingly entering the American consumer consciousness and are being translated into their purchasing habits.
Although earlier this year beverage industry analysts Canadean forecasted a decline in carbonated drink sales for the fourth year running, the category still maintains a strong foothold in the market. Total sales for the year reached $17.6bn, which is $5bn more than the packaged good that came second in the top ten list.
Canadean had said that recent challenges have resulted in significant changes in direction for the two leading players - Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Alternative avenues that have been explored include investing in the most dynamic independent producers, overhauling iced tea portfolios and a range of new health focused drinks.
Bottled still water
Bottled water came seventh in Nielsen's top ten consumer packaged goods sold in US retail stores, with sales amounting to $6bn in 2007.
It has been one of the fastest growing beverage products ever. Last year, worldwide sale volumes increased 8 percent to reach 187bn liters, according to Zenith International. In this current market, global bottled water consumption will grow to 251bn liters by 2011.
This shows the continued opportunities and bottled water manufacturers worldwide, despite some concerns over the sustainability of bottling the product compared to sourcing from the tap.
However, analysts suggest that consumers have begun backing away from the product, but can be lured back with flavored water through a perception that these products have added value, such as functional health benefits.
Booming carbonated drinks sales coincided with product placement on network television. Coca cola soft drinks topped the list of all advertised retail products in the US, with 3,123 occurrences.
Kraft Foods Inc was the only food and drinks firm to appear in the top ten list of companies who spent the most on advertising within the traditional media. It spent $879m, a 1 percent increase on last year.
This is despite the company having joined a voluntary industry initiative to reduce its marketing to children, along with other large companies such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola.
Refrigerated milk came high in the lists, showing a fondness for freshness. It came second for products purchased, with 95 percent of US homes buying it at least once in 2007. It also came second in regards to sales, amounting for sales of $12.8bn.
Snacks featured high in the top ten list for packaged goods purchased by US homes. Chocolate candies were purchased by 91 percent of households, placing the category in eighth place, while potato chips came ninth with 88 percent.