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Peanut butter and jelly sales are up. Is this inflation related?

And center-store bread is a sales powerhouse

Anne-Marie_Roerink_210_Analytics_2023[60].pngAnne-Marie Roerink is principal and founder of 210 Analytics, which specializes in quantitative and qualitative market research. She may be reached at [email protected].

My firm’s February performance report series (covering produce, meat, seafood, deli, dairy, bakery, frozen and more) showed a sobering reality for unit and volume sales across the store. In 2022, dollar sales increased on inflation, but the vast majority of departments and categories struggled to keep pace with the 2021, let alone the 2020 results. 

Are people simply eating less? 

With 20 years of grocery research under my belt, I sincerely doubted that the answer was that simple, though certainly preventing food waste and resisting impulse is part of the “buying less” trend that we’re experiencing. In reality, dollars and trips are shifting around between stores and items more than ever. So, what is growing in today’s world? 
As always, Circana (formerly IRI) data provides some interesting insights. Looking at the sales patterns, our first discovery zeroes in on an American classic. While deli meat and cheese, packaged lunch meat and cheese and many other sandwich topics follow the familiar patterns of dollars up due to inflation, but units and volume down year-on-year, there’s strength for peanut butter and jelly sandwich fixings. 
In February, peanut butter and other nut butters increased 1.1% in units and 1.6% in pounds — showing a switch to larger pack sizes. Jelly sales were up 1.0% in units and 0.1% in pounds. In bread, center-store breads were down in sales, but fresh perimeter baked items were up. 

That said, center-store bread is a sales powerhouse with 236 million breads sold in the four-week period. Admittedly, my Dutch self has never had a PB&J sandwich, but clearly it is a lifesaver for many in their balancing act between time, money, and making a satisfying meal. 

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