Health could boost declining US cookie sales, report

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nabisco, Kraft foods

Declining US cookie sales may be set for a turnaround if
manufacturers focus on gourmet, organic and whole grains, according
to a new report.

Published by market researcher Packaged Facts, the report claims that the US cookie market has been hit in recent years by an increased consumer interest in healthy eating.

"While the extension of flagship brands such as Nabisco's Oreo and Pepperidge Farm's Milano lines have met with great success, these successes alone have merely slowed down the quickly eroding market,"​ said Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts.

"By tapping into the national 'snacking healthy' boon that is currently in process, cookie marketers have a major opportunity to broaden their offerings by meeting consumer needs for higher protein, high fiber, fortified, and lower-fat, -sugar, and -salt varieties,"​ he added.

Indeed, the report suggests that a successful transition away from trans fats has now cleared the way for cookie manufacturers to move on to the next public health focus- whole grains. This, says Packaged Facts, is a "focus with staying power."

Line extensions, such as those seen in Pepperidge Farm's Milano​ line and Nabisco's Oreo​ cookies, are also a key to propping up sales, said the report. Other initiatives for growth include targeting alternate demographic groups, including Hispanics and baby boomers, "especially as it becomes less politically correct to target children".

The cookie market in the US is currently valued at around $5.6bn, a decline of just over 8 percent since 2001, when sales stood at $6bn.

The "steady declines"​ were largely due to higher ingredients costs that resulted in increased prices, a growing market for alternative snack products and an increased consumer interest in healthy eating, said the report.

But Packaged Facts reported that sales appear to be stabilizing, estimating that the market for cookies is set to grow at a "modest rate".

Over the next few years the market researcher forecasts that sales will increase by around 1-3 percent per year, to reach $6.1bn in 2010. Growth will be fueled by demand for premium and indulgent products and healthier versions of mass-market brands- including whole grains.

The report reveals that Kraft Foods' Nabisco has remained market leader, holding a steady 36 percent of the market. Keebler Food Co. lost substantial market share and now stands just below the 10 percent barrier from around 13 per cent. Pepperidge Farm registered an increase in market share, gaining 40 basis points to 7.5 percent.

In terms of product sales, Oreo made over $250m, while Oreo Double Stuf racked up $124m from $102m. Chips Ahoy! on the other hand, saw sales fall 5 percent to $168m. Fourth most popular cookie, Little Debbie, had sales increase by 2 percent to nearly $117m, but Archway cookies saw sales fall by 10 percent to just under $100m.

Other products that feature in the top ten cookie brands include Pepperidge Farm Milano, Lofthouse, Nabisco Nilla and Fig Newton.

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