Cookies cruise past $10 billion in sales

The cookie category reached an impressive benchmark, topping $10 billion in annual sales in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research company. Dollar sales in the cookie category were $10.8 billion, up 9.4% from the same period a year ago, IRI said. Unit sales dipped 1.6% to 3.5 billion.

Leading the category was Nabisco with sales of $3.5 billion in the 52 weeks, up 3.4% from the year-ago period. Private label cookie sales were $890 million, an increase of nearly 15% from the year-ago 52-week period. Pepperidge Farm cookies accounted for $531 million in sales, a 3.8% increase from the same period a year ago, according to IRI.

As trends in consumer behavior revealed increased preferences for snacking, innovation in the category displayed an appeal to seasonal sensibilities. Several cookie companies introduced products in flavor profiles of the season, with pumpkin spice emerging as the fall favorite.

While Campbell Soup Co.’s Pepperidge Farm cookies showed solid growth in the past year, the company leaned into the strength of its largest snack brand, Goldfish, with the introduction of a limited-time sweet snack collaboration with Dunkin’ Brands. The release of Goldfish Dunkin’ Pumpkin Spice Grahams followed comments from Mark A. Clouse, president and chief executive officer of Campbell Soup, during the company’s June 8 conference call to discuss third-quarter financial results. mr. Clouse said the Goldfish brand has “grown from a favorite kids’ food to a top choice of their teen siblings and their parents.”

Goldfish Dunkin’ Pumpkin Spice Grahams were crafted with coffee drinkers in mind, as they resonate with notes of pumpkin, donut glaze, and warm spices — including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, according to the company.

Nabisco’s parent company Mondelez International has announced plans to invest in segments driven by snacking, including biscuits and chocolate.

“Our annual state of snacking survey shows that consumers increasingly prefer snacking over traditional meals,” Dirk Van de Put, CEO of Mondelez, said in a July 26 conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings. “And because snacking plays such an important role in consumers’ lives, our core categories of chocolate and biscuits historically have resilience to economic downturns and pricing actions.”

Nabisco released a limited-time cookie in July with Neapolitan Oreos. According to the company, Neapolitan Oreos provide “a playful twist on ice cream with a unique waffle cone-flavored base cake.” The cookies feature three crème layers matching those found in Neapolitan ice cream: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.

Mondelez’s belVita cookies brought in $426 million in sales in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7, according to IRI. In August, belVita was ranked as the fastest growing brand globally in “Food & Drink 2022,” a report by London-based consultancy company Brand Finance.

The Voortman brand of Hostess Brands, Inc. saw a 24% sales jump to $176 million in the same period, IRI said.

“Voortman growth continues to be driven by expanding distribution.” Andrew P. Callahan, president and CEO of Hostess Brands, Inc., said in an Aug. 3 conference call with analysts to discuss second-quarter earnings.

Voortman accounts for approximately 10% of the Hostess sales, he said.

“We are, by far, the leading share within our sugar-free portfolio,” Mr. Callahan said. “That subsegment of sugar-free is growing at — consistently growing at two times the rate of total sugar.”

Voortman recently debuted two fall-inspired wafers: pumpkin spice and s’mores. In the summer, two limited-edition crème wafer flavors were offered: raspberry lemonade and tropical fruit.

Enjoying a large jump in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7, Tate’s Bake Shop sales jumped 31% to $170 million, according to IRI. Tate’s released a limited edition offering of pumpkin spice cookies with creamy white chocolate chips.

“Consumers’ enthusiasm for pumpkin spice shows no sign of slowing down,” said Lauren Sella, chief marketing officer of Tate’s. “Tate’s Bake Shop is excited to debut our crispy cookie twist on this classic fall trend. We remain committed to expanding our portfolio to meet the evolving tastes of our customers.”

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