Now, companies have shifted back to expanding their variety again to drive sales. “The death of variety that everyone was predicting didn’t happen. It has come back in full force,” said Krishnakumar Davey, president of IRI’s strategic analytics practice. “People are sick and tired of seeing the same products.”
Hot sauce and sardines: What’s new and what’s made a comeback
In order to meet the surge in demand last year, spice maker McCormick “temporarily suspended production of many secondary products to ensure availability of top selling [items],” a spokesperson for the company said in an email.
But Smucker has resumed normal production levels and added those products back. It’s now focusing again on product launches, such as recent introductions of Jif Natural Squeeze peanut butter and Smucker’s Uncrustables’ kids snacks.
Some of that has to do with increased demand for packaged food with more people working from home instead of offices.
“It’s important that we deliver additional solutions for lunchtime and away-from-home snacking,” she said.
Dan Hofmeister, senior vice president of brand marketing at tuna-maker Bumble Bee, said in an email that its item count has grown 36% to 307 different items since cutting down to a low of 225 last year.
“As demand begin to normalize, we began phasing in temporarily suspended” items, Hofmeister said. Bumble Bee has recently launched new lines of tuna snacks and bowls, as well as white Albacore in olive oil and new sardine lines.
Grocery stores also say they are receiving more options from manufacturers to stock their shelves.
The company is seeing the most variety expansion in baking, dairy, frozen meals and salty snacks and candy, DeVol said.
“Increased snacking at home is driving the need for innovation as consumers want to try new snacks and treats,” she said.
All in all, the variety for many staples at the grocery store has expanded.
The average number of salty snacks at stores grew 10.9% during the three months ending July 11 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest data from IRI. The selection of energy drinks increased 11.5%, pre-mixed cocktails jumped 79.2%, and pastry items gained 14.8% during the stretch.