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The 2023 Supermarket News Category Guide

SN’s annual product category special report takes a deep dive into what’s going on with fresh foods and center store

Data from food industry research firms showed sales growth across nearly every department at supermarkets in the U.S. in the past year. Yet most fresh-food categories benefited from inflated prices while struggling to increase unit sales volume, even nominal highfliers like dairy and bakery, according to data from NIQ and Circana.

According to year-over-year sales numbers, dairy climbed 15.5% to $95.6 billion (52 weeks through May 2023), with the bakery also reporting double-digit growth (14.5% to $19.7 billion). All other fresh categories generated sales gains for the year, including meat (+4.7% to $90.3 billion), produce (+5.2% to $80 billion), and deli (+8.5% to $50.1 billion), while seafood sales was the only reported decline (falling 1.1% to $7.3 billion). Within the produce category, dollar sales of vegetables rose 7.5% to $38.5 billion, while dollar sales of fruits grew 2.9% to $38.9 billion.

Sharp price increases and the resulting changes in consumer behavior have also impacted sales across center store categories throughout the past year.

The two largest center store categories in terms of sales — salty snacks, and carbonated beverages — both experienced double-digit gains in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending May 21, according to Circana sales data. Unit sales for both of these high-volume categories were down for the year, however. Salty snack dollar sales were up 15.6% across all outlets, while unit sales were down 0.6%, compared with a year ago, while carbonated beverages saw dollar sales rise 14.9% and unit sales fall 2.9%.

The annual SN Category Guide gives a snapshot of fresh food and center store product sales in 2023 versus a year ago, based on multi-outlet market data from IRI, NielsenIQ and IDDBA. Fresh categories include produce, dairy, meat and seafood, bakery and deli. Center store categories include shelf-stable groceries, frozen foods, nonfood and HBC, snacks and candy, and beverages. We also highlight the top product categories by sales, as well as gainers and decliners. Additionally, this year SN chose to look at SKUs with unit product sales of at least 1 million products moved — a choice that allows us to capture fast growing, emerging products.

Dive in and take a read.

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INTRO: Fresh foods flourish as grocery shoppers continue to shift spending

BAKERY: Bakery still raking in the dough(nuts)

MEAT: Meat is slowly starting to pack on the pounds again

DAIRY: Cheese and milk: The big two continue to dominate

DELI: It counts to be ‘well prepared’ in deli

PRODUCE: Fresh produce is going steady throughout inflation


INTRO: Inflation drives dollar sales gains across center store

BEVERAGES: Functional ingredients drive beverage sales

SNACKS AND CANDY: Snacks provide both comfort and wellness

NONFOOD/HBC/GENERAL MERCHANDISE: Grocers fail to keep pace in nonfoods categories

FROZEN: Processed meats were frozen’s only sales gainers in May

GROCERY/SHELF STABLE: Shelf-stable stays on shaky ground

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