Washington — Consumers are concerned about the sustained high levels of inflation and are making changes to what, how much and where they are purchasing groceries, according to February 2023 Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) consumer research. Units and pounds for total food and beverages have been down two consecutive years as “sticking to the list” and “buying no more than what is needed” are among the top measures, the research found. Amid all this pressure, non-chocolate candy and gum remain above-average performers.
Chocolate dollar sales increased to $18.5 billion in the 52 weeks ending February 26, IRI reports indicate. This was an increase of 9.4 percent in dollars, though units decreased 4.5 percent during this same time frame, illustrating that gains were inflation-driven. Sugarfree and seasonal chocolate continued to do well in both the shorter- and longer-term views.
Growth of non-chocolate dollars remain in the double-digits, up 14.6 percent in the 52-week view and 19.8 percent in the latest four weeks ending February 26. All areas within non-chocolate contributed to dollar growth, with the biggest gains driven by seasonal, novelty and sugarfree non-chocolate candy. In a world where unit and volume pressure are ubiquitous, non-chocolate managed to increase unit sales alongside dollar sales. In the four-week period, unit sales increased 2 percent and in the longer 52-week view, units increased 0.5 percent.
Sales patterns for gum were very similar to pre pandemic movement. Sales are once more exceeding $3 billion as the sector continues to build back to its pre-pandemic strength. Dollar sales were up for both sugarless and regular gum as well as breath fresheners. Unit growth is driven by sugarless gum, up 5.5 percent in the 52-week view and 14.2 percent in the past month.