Bottling and can packaging providers should take note: three of the five fastest growing Food and Beverage categories in the global marketplace in 2001 were beverages, led overwhelmingly by prepared alcoholic beverages according to a study released by ACNielsen, the marketing information company. Water and drinkable yoghurts also made the top five. Out of more than 90 categories reviewed, only nine grew by 10 per cent or more in 2001.
"There has been quite a bit of innovation lately, particularly in the beverage sector," according to Jane Perrin, ACNielsen managing director of Global Services, and the sponsor of the study, 'What's Hot Around the Globe - Insights on Growth in Food and Beverages'.
"When we looked around the world, despite all of the cultural differences that one would expect, certain types of products resonate with global consumers - products that are healthy, convenient and provide some excitement and innovation to their lives."
Consumers continue to be attracted to what is new in the marketplace. Among the millions of food and beverage products found in the global marketplace, true product innovation was clearly found in the Prepared Alcoholic Beverages category. Products such as "malternatives" and spirit-based mixed bottled drinks added excitement to the category and drove growth. In fact, Prepared Alcoholic Beverages topped the list, growing by more than 30 per cent.
Illustrative of the convenience trend is the double-digit growth seen in categories such as Ready-to-Eat Refrigerated Meals and Meal Makers and Refrigerated Pre-Packaged Salads - convenience products designed to make meal preparation easier for today's busy lifestyles. Frozen Fruit, ready to thaw and serve without spoilage, is another example of a category addressing the consumer need for convenience.
In a time when consumers are more conscious about food-related safety, products such as bottled Water and Frozen Meat and Poultry have shown strong growth. Drinkable Yoghurts offered portability but also provided a healthy beverage alternative with their inclusion of, for example, live cultures in the products.
Although growth in all of the regions was driven by the same trends - Convenience, Health and Innovation - there was some disparity across the regions. North America's fastest growing categories most closely mirrored the global list, with Asia Pacific showing the least resemblance.
ACNielsen based its findings on its own retail sales data from 47 countries in North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The 47 markets account for more than 95 per cent of the world's Gross Domestic Product and more than 70 per cent of the world's population.
Since the "hottest" growth categories were generally the smaller categories, ACNielsen also examined those categories that showed the largest absolute growth in 2001.
"The top nine fastest growing categories were mostly comprised of smaller, newer categories where growth started from a relatively small base," explained Perrin. "It would be a mistake for manufacturers and retailers to only look at these fast growing categories and lose sight of those categories with the largest growth, as even slight growth in these large categories translates into huge sales."
Eight categories grew by more than $1 billion (€1.07bn) and had growth of at least 5 per cent in 2001. Much like the "fastest" growth list, beverages dominated the eight "largest" growth categories. Five of the eight categories (62 per cent) were beverages. Beer was the largest growing category, with an increase in sales of $3 billion in 2001, representing a growth rate of 5 per cent. Water was the only category to appear on both the "fastest" and "largest" lists.