Satisfaction: General Mills, Kraft Show Big Gains
Kraft and General Mills logged the largest gains in consumer satisfaction scores among food makers in this year's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report covering consumer non-durable goods.
H.J. Heinz remained at the top of the food-company results, with an index score of 87 (although that was down 2% from its score of 89 last year). However, for the first time since 1999, Heinz is sharing the #1 spot: Both General Mills and PepsiCo's Quaker also scored 87. For General Mills, that was a 5% gain from last year's 83; for Quaker, it was a 1% gain from last year's 86.
Only Kraft showed a larger index-score gain than General Mills — up 6%, to 86, from last year's 81.
Hershey also scored 86 (up from 85 last year). Rival candy companies Mars and Nestle each saw their scores decline by two places — Mars from 86 to 84, Nestle from 85 to 83.
Kellogg's score rose 2%, from 83 to 85; Campbell Soup's rose 4%, from 81 to 84; and Dole and Hillshire Brands each rose from 83 to 84.
The average score for the food manufacturing industry as a whole was down 2.4%, from 83 to 81. All major brands exceeded that average, with the exception of Tyson, at 80 (Tyson hasn't exceeded the average in the 20 years of the ACSI studies).
The biggest contributor to the decline in the overall average was a 2% decline (from 82 to 80) in the aggregate score for "all other" food companies — the smaller companies and private brands that make up a large part of the industry.
Higher food prices also contributed to the overall decline, although food prices rose just 1% last year, compared to a 1.5% increase in the Consumer Price Index.
Soft Drinks and Beer: Little Change
Among soft drink companies, Dr Pepper Snapple saw a decline from 87 to 86, but still held the top spot, after surging ahead of its larger competitors last year.
Last year, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola were tied at 84. This year, PepsiCo edged ahead with an 85, while Coca-Cola remained at 84 (along with the aggregate for "all other" soft drink companies). The two cola/beverages giants have remained within two ACSI points of each other in all but two of the past twenty years.
This year, the aggregate score for smaller soft-drink makers declined to 82 from 84. Consumers said that other companies' lower prices do not make up for shortcomings in taste compared to the larger brands, according to ACSI's report.
The average score for soft drinks overall was unchanged at 84.
Among breweries, higher prices didn't have much effect on the majors: MillerCoors's score rose from 81 to 82, and Anheuser-Busch InBev's was unchanged at 81.
However, the same can't be said for "all other" breweries, notes ACSI: Their aggregate score dropped 4%, from 83 to 80.
The non-durable consumer products survey also covers apparel, athletic shoes, personal care and cleaning products. The full report can be downloaded on ACSI's site.