Smart cookies, these snack companies: despite a societal backlash on all things ‘sugar’, the cookie category has reached an impressive benchmark in the US, topping $10 billion in annual sales.
According to IRI, a Chicago-based market research company, dollar sales in the cookie category were $10.8 billion in the 52 week period leading up to August 7—a 9.4% increase from the same period a year ago.
Nabisco leads the category with sales of $3.5 billion, up 3.4% from the year-ago period, but private label cookie sales totalled an impressive $890 million, an increase of nearly 15% from the 52 weeks prior.
European-inspired cookie creators Pepperidge Farm also accounted for $531 million in sales, a 3.8% increase.
As trends in consumer behavior continue to reveal an increased preference for snacking, seasonal products (like pumpkin spice-flavored cookies) proved to be firm favorites.
In fact, some companies are even combining these products with their wider, non-cookie snack categories. Campbell Soup Co’s Pepperidge Farm recently released ‘Goldfish Dunkin’ Pumpkin Spice Grahams’, a limited-time cookie collaboration between Goldfish and Dunkin’ Brands.
Even Mondelez International’s more savory belVita cookies brought in $426 million in annual sales, according to IRI.
In August, belVita was ranked as the fastest growing brand globally in Brand Finaance’s “Food & Drink 2022” report.
Naturally, its parent company has announced plans to invest more in the cookie-friendly segments of its snacking category.
“Our annual state of snacking survey shows that consumers increasingly prefer snacking over traditional meals,” said Dirk Van de Put, CEO of Mondelez, in a July 26 earnings call.
“Because snacking plays such an important role in consumers’ lives, our core categories of chocolate and biscuits historically have resilience to economic downturns and pricing actions.”
The Voortman Brand, a sugar-free cookie giant that was reportedly purchased for $320 million in 2020 by Hostess Brands, also saw a 24% sales jump to $176 million in the same period.
In an August earnings call Andrew P. Callahan, president and CEO of Hostess Brands, said Voortman now accounts for approximately 10% of the company.
“We are, by far, the leading share within our sugar-free portfolio,” he noted. “That subsegment of sugar-free is growing at—consistently growing at two times the rate of total sugar.”
That, and pumpkin spice. Both Voortman and Tate’s Bake Shop (whose own sales have jumped 31% year-on-year, to $170 million) recently debuted a pumpkin spice edition of their beloved cookies—in wafer and white chocolate chip form, respectively.
“Consumers’ enthusiasm for pumpkin spice shows no sign of slowing down,” said Lauren Sella, Tate’s chief marketing officer. “Tate’s Bake Shop is excited to debut our crispy cookie twist on this classic fall trend. We remain committed to expanding our portfolio to meet the evolving tastes of our customers.”
And, given the numbers, that seems like a pretty sweet deal for all.