Beverage Industry

Coffee sales heat up

July 12, 2011
Illy Mochaccino

Demands for premium tastes as well as for competitively priced products helped contribute to growth in the coffee category. The category experienced a 9.1 percent increase in sales for more than $4 billion, according to SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, for the 52 weeks ending May 15 in U.S. supermarkets, drug stores, gas and convenience stores and mass merchandise outlets, excluding Wal-Mart.

Measured channels in the category showed notable growth, such as ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee brands posting a 9.6 percent increase for $821.1 million in sales, according to the market research firm. Other gainers for the year included ground coffee with 6.6 percent growth for $2.6 billion in sales, instant coffee with a 5.5 percent increase in sales for $457.2 million and the biggest increase coming from single cup coffee with 112.3 percent growth for more than $313.6 million in sales. Whole bean coffee sales decreased 2.3 percent for more than $325.7 million in sales, according to SymphonyIRI data.

Category leader Folger’s ground coffee increased sales 7.6 percent, while other top ground coffee leaders Maxwell House, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts also experienced positive gains during the time period. Peet’s Coffee & Tea showed a positive year with sales of more than $66.3 million, which is a 14.7 percent increase. The company last year announced the permanent addition of its Uzuri African Blend coffee from East Africa, which is the company’s first permanent launch in eight years, it says.

The instant coffee segment continued to benefit from increased exposure. Starbucks’ Via Ready Brew product line saw a sales growth of 345.8 percent for more than $27.8 million. Earlier this year, the company increased the product line offerings with Starbucks Via Ready Brew French Roast, which is based on Starbucks’ best-selling coffee in its store locations, it says. Other gainers for instant coffee are Maxwell House International with a 1,943.3 percent increase for more than $47.5 million, Nescafe Clasico with an 8.2 percent increase and Nescafe Tasters Choice with a 7 percent increase. Instant coffee leader Folger’s had a 2.8 percent decrease, but still maintains 20.2 percent of the market share.

Although single cup coffee maintains a smaller portion of the coffee category, the segment has shown the most growth. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), Waterbury, Vt., sales fueled the segment as it posted an 86.8 percent increase for $104.9 million in sales, according to SymphonyIRI data. GMCR acquired all outstanding shares of LJVH Holdings Inc., known as Van Houtte. Earlier this year, GMCR also announced manufacturing and distribution agreements with Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks to make their respective coffee products available in single-serve K-Cup portion packs for use with Keurig Single-Cup Brewers.

After an underwhelming 2009, RTD coffee saw a noticeable uptick in sales. The category’s No. 1 brand, Starbucks Frappuccino, which is offered through a joint venture between Starbucks and Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages known as the North American Coffee Partnership, saw a 6.6 percent increase sales. However, Starbucks Frappuccino RTD coffee lost 1.8 percent of its market share, but still occupies 66.4 percent of the RTD coffee market. Starbucks Doubleshot also had a positive year with a 16.1 percent sales increase. But the biggest gainer of the year was Seattle’s Best, also a Starbucks brand, which posted 569.9 percent growth for $7.8 million in sales. The company expanded the availability of Seattle’s Best products beyond the initial West Coast test market locations that began in January 2010. 

Ilko Coffee International, a global joint venture between Illycaffé and The Coca-Cola Co. that produces the Illy Issimo brand, showed strength with a 227.9 percent increase, according to SymphonyIRI Group. The partnership recently added two new ready-to-drink coffee-based beverages to its Illy Issimo line: Caffé No Sugar and Mochaccino. BI