SPINS, which measured sales of natural products within natural, specialty gourmet, and conventional retailers in the year to December 22, 2012, said the growth of natural and organic products outpaced overall store growth across all channels in 2012, clocking a 13.3% rise in sales to break through the $36bn barrier.
Organic sales were growing at 12% while natural products were growing at 13%.
To put this into context, Symphony IRI data shows that overall sales of consumer packaged goods in grocery outlets were up just 3.4% last year, while volumes were flat (-0.3%).
SPINS: Coffee, baby food, and nut & seed butters post strongest growth in natural arena
The fastest growing natural food categories in the natural space were coffee, coffee substitutes & cocoa (+40%); followed by baby food (+34%); nut and seed butters (+27%); shelf-stable fruits and veggies (+27%); and shelf-stable meats, poultry and seafood (+26%), said SPINS.
The top four natural categories were vitamins & minerals ($2.34bn); packaged fresh produce ($2.31bn); yogurt & kefir ($2.18bn); and chips, pretzels and snacks ($1.37bn).
Symphony IRI: 2012 was the year of energy drinks, bottled water and weight management
According to Symphony IRI data covering all grocery categories, the strongest performers in 2012 were energy drinks, bottled water, and coffee, unit sales (ie. volumes) of which surged 18.7%, 4.6% and 4.5% respectively.
2012 was also a good year for unit sales of weight management products (up 15.1%); crackers (up 5.1%); snack/granola bars (up 4.3%); and vitamins (up 4.5%).
Meanwhile, unit sales of cold cereal; fresh bread & rolls; chocolate candy; and salty snacks declined 3%, 3.3%, 3.7% and 0.6% respectively in 2012.
Convenience was also the only channel to demonstrate volume growth, seeing a 2.6% rise in unit sales in the 52 weeks to Sept 9, 2012 compared with a 2.5% decline in the drug channel and a 2.7% decline in the food channel.
Click here to see PINS' infographic on natural products in 2012.
To download the SymphonyIRI report on Center Store: Driving Growth from the Inside Out, click here .