Karen Coyle, Market Manager North America, Bord Bia-Irish Food Board
Over the years, overseas visitors to US supermarkets would have been struck by the super-sized packs in most product categories, to be placed in super-sized trolleys to be maneuvered around super-sized stores and brought home in super-sized vehicles. However, a trip to the US supermarket today shows a notable range and prominent display of smaller pack sizes.
This is the result of a number of factors – manufacturers offsetting rising ingredient and production costs (smaller packs at same rsp); consumer demand for portion control (e.g. 100 calorie packs) and as a result of the tougher economic times, consumers purchasing from week to week to stretch their food dollars.
However, the increase in smaller households is the biggest driver. According to the US Census 2011, 62% of all US households are one or two person. 76 million households have no children (versus 38 million with children).
US manufacturers and retailers have actively responded with smaller pack sizes. Heinz recently launched a 10oz Tomato Ketchup pack and a 9oz Mustard pack. In the meat case, single and two portion pre-packs of most cuts are widely available, while the meat counter is constantly in demand to cut small to order. Even the American classic, Spam is available in 3oz single portions.
However, the freezer aisle is where there’s been an explosion in single-serve and ‘for two’ packs – meals, pizza, appetizers, vegetables, desserts, ice cream, breakfast, even alcohol!
Smaller packs are set to remain one of the most dynamic areas of US grocery for some time.