Food Inflation Favors At-Home Eating, Private-Label Products

Food price inflation isn’t serving restaurants any favors, but it’s helping to grow private label CPG food and beverage products as consumers opt to consume more edibles at home.

Still, while the Food at Home Consumer Price Index has risen by an average of 2.1% each year since 2000, it climbed 11.9% from May of 2021 to May of this year.

During the first five months of 2022, at-home food prices increased by an average of 1.3% per month, for the highest five-month average increase since April-August of 1973.

But "even with the impact of elevated grocery prices, dining out is still much more expensive than eating at home,” said The NPD Group SVP David Portalatin, who participated in a webinar this week.

The NPD Group and IRI executives explained that on a per-occasion basis, eating at restaurants is more than three times as expensive as eating at home.

Data from Numerator show that from May to early August, online continued to have the highest rates of grocery inflation. 

According to retail channels tracked by IRI, private label food and beverage categories showing the most dollar sales growth year over year in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7 were beverages (+13.8%) followed by refrigerated (+10.7%), general food (+7.4%) and frozen (+6.7%).

Numerator found that select food products such as canned fruits and vegetables, jams and spreads and yogurt have seen the most consistent private label shifts in the past three months.

Among non-edible CPG categories, body skin care products have seen big gains in private label dollar share—up nearly 50% in recent weeks versus Q4 of last year.

A trend that doesn’t garner as many headlines as food inflation but is gaining consumer attention is called “shrinkflation.”

It’s a reference to smaller portions of things like snack bars in the same package that used to contain bigger portions but are priced the same.

As reported on by CNBC, two days ago there were more than 261 million views of videos related to shrinkflation on TikTok.

In one example, Mondelez International confirmed that it had reduced the size of medium Cadbury Dairy Milk bars for the first time since 2012.

A Mondelez rep told CNBC that “significantly increased production costs” have made it much more expensive to produce its goods.

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