Inventiveness will drive 2011 pie sales

Articles
December 10, 2010

Inventiveness will drive 2011 pie sales

Could people eat another morsel of pumpkin, sweet potato or pecan pie right now? Did an overload of Thanksgiving desserts quell America’s craving for more of these classic meal finishers? Perhaps for a blink of time, but clearly not in the long term for a nation that associates apple pie with motherhood. That would seem almost anti-American.

Could people eat another morsel of pumpkin, sweet potato or pecan pie right now? Did an overload of Thanksgiving desserts quell America’s craving for more of these classic meal finishers? Perhaps for a blink of time, but clearly not in the long term for a nation that associates apple pie with motherhood. That would seem almost anti-American.

Indeed, sweet and savory pies, miniature pies, and even pies blended into milkshakes will help drive a popularity surge for pie in 2011, according to restaurant and hotel marketing consultant Andrew Freeman, of Andrew Freeman & Co., San Francisco. This was his #1 foodservice trend for next year aired in a recent webinar and reported on by Nation’s Restaurant News. Freestanding pie shops will also begin to dot the country, he predicted, following the successful segmentation of cupcakes from neighborhood bakeries.

While F3 feels that few could resist the temptation of roadside pie carts in farm country because local and freshness sell, we believe when it comes to more mundane settings it will take chef-inspired creations to light the fire under this trend. People selecting desserts when entertaining or gifting have many flashier alternatives – and if they simply want comfort food they have plenty of options there as well.

Indeed, fresh and frozen pies have been long-established items in supermarkets, and they’ve yet to approach the $1 billion mark. Even including canned pie and pastry fillings and canned pudding/pie fillings which home bakers use, the pie category isn’t close to the $1 billion threshold in supermarket sales. These Nielsen figures for U.S. supermarkets covering the 52 weeks ended October 2, 2010 don’t include independent bakeries or farm-sold pies, which could possibly take U.S. pie sales over that level.

Yet supermarket performance suggests that even if restaurant and bakery chefs get busy with pies in 2011 and grow the business into a “larger pie,” supermarkets will have to elevate their own taste and marketing innovations to capture a slice of that growth.

The good news for retailer margin percentages: the private label share in fresh pies, the largest segment of the business, approaches half; it is 46.9% to be precise, according to Nielsen data for prepackaged, UPC-coded products only in supermarkets that generate at least $2 million in annual overall dollar volume.  Dollar sales of fresh pies grew by 6.8% a year ago and 7.9% in the latest 12 months to reach $352.9 million, on equivalized unit volume (EUV) gains of 2.2% and 6.9% in the successive years, reported Nielsen.

In the latest 52 weeks, fresh branded pie dollar sales were up 9.2% to $187.5 million, and the private label segment rose 6.5% to $165.4 million, the data showed. The five most popular flavors in fresh: apple, pumpkin, cherry, pecan and peach, all up in the last year.

By contrast, dollar sales of frozen pies have melted the past four years, by 0.5%, 2.7%, 2.4% and most recently 0.6% to $329.6 million in U.S. supermarkets. While branded pies were also down in each of these years to $326.1 million, and private label declined in three straight annual periods, PL did post a 16.3% rise in the most recent 52 weeks, albeit to $3.5 million, noted Nielsen. The five most popular flavors in frozen: apple, key lime, pumpkin, Dutch apple and cherry, with gains in only pumpkin and Dutch apple.

 

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