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Protein-Rich Products, Healthy Snacks Help Power Strongest CPG Sales Rise In 4 Years

Trend Was Particularly Noticeable Among Small, Midsize Companies Such As fairlife, Sargento; Dairy Among Top New Products

The US consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry registered its strongest growth in four years last year, and some of the biggest gains were achieved by companies targeting the fast-growing market for protein-rich foods and healthy, “mindful” snacks, according to research released this week by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI).

The trend was particularly noticeable among small and midsize companies which, according to the research, continue to seize market share from larger CPG competitors. Sargento Foods, fairlife, Quest Nutrition, Vita Coco and Bai — all makers of high-protein foods and beverages and mindful snacks — are among the companies with annual sales of less than $5 billion that ranked among the CPG-industry growth leaders in 2015.

CPG sales in the US last year increased by 3.1 percent to $670 billion, a pace last achieved in 2012, the research found. Further, small companies (those with less than $1 billion in sales) and midsize companies ($1 billion to $5 billion in sales) accounted for 46.4 percent of total CPG sales, a 0.5-percentage-point gain since 2014 and 2.7-percentage-point gain since 2011.

That translates into an $18.1 billion shift in market share during the past four years, the research noted. This growth by small and midsized companies was driven largely by their ability to gain wider distribution for their products, according to IRI data.

The findings are based on the fourth annual analysis by BCG and IRI of the growth performance of more than 400 CPG companies with annual US retail sales of more than $100 million. The study included both public and private CPG companies and focused on what consumers actually bought in measured channels as opposed to what factories shipped.

Small and midsize companies that target consumers’ quest for protein are among the best performers, the research found. Quest Nutrition, whose leading products include protein bars, powder, chips and shakes, is the top-performing small company on the BCG-IRI list.

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