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INNOVATION RAISES CREAMER DOLLARS, UNITS & VOLUME

Organic Barista Almondmilk, from New Barn Organics, can be enjoyed straight from the carton, steamed for espresso drinks, or poured into coffee or tea as a creamer.

Unique new flavors, barista offerings and clean labels are key factors. And the pandemic helped increase the trend to more in-home coffee consumption.  

Sales of refrigerated coffee creamers jumped 16.0% to nearly $900 million in the 12 weeks ended August 8, according to IRI, the Chicago-based market research firm. Units and volume gained 1.9% and 1.3%, respectively. Volume sold with merchandising support averaged 15.9%.

Nestlé, the category leader, saw dollars gain 5.8% but units fell by 7.9% and volume was off by 8.4%. During the period, volume sold with merchandising support was 16.6% — just above the category average.

Chobani’s oat-based and plant-based coffee creamers come in classic and seasonal flavors, like
Peppermint Mocha and Pumpkin Spice.

LOTS OF BIG GAINS

Among the top 10 brands, Planet Oat was the fastest grower in dollars, units and volume — 127.2%, 103.0% and 103.0%, respectively. But Chobani, off a larger base, also turned in extremely strong numbers in dollars, units and volume — 97.4%, 67.6% and 67.9%, respectively. Chobani’s volume sold with merchandising support was ahead by 33.9 percentage points versus the year-ago period. Planet Oat’s supported volume was up by 21.8 points.

As is the case in other categories throughout the store, clean-label and dairy-free trends are gaining strength in all varieties of creamers. Plant-based products are growing in part because about 36% of Americans suffer from lactose intolerance, according to research by the federal government and non-governmental organizations. That percentage is generally higher among African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans and Hispanics/Latinos. Globally, 65% of the population is believed to be lactose intolerant.

There are other significant drivers, of course. Demand for creamers has seen strong growth driven by increased home consumption, Barista offerings, new ingredients and new flavors. 

Many consumers are sticking with the at-home coffee routines they picked up during the pandemic — brewing and customizing their own coffee or reaching for ready-to-drink coffees in supermarkets. 

“Over the past two years, we have seen an increase in coffee creamer consumption sparked by consumers shifting their coffee consumption to the home and looking to elevate their at-home coffee experience,” says Matt Paolucci, vp, commercial strategy of New York-based Chobani. “This trend is here to stay, especially with hybrid and remote work situations continuing. Consumers are also demanding wholesome and clean coffee creamers that are free of preservatives and GMO ingredients.”

Dunkin’s Pumpkin Munchkin Creamers are available for a limited time in 32-ounce bottles.

BARISTA SEGMENT THRIVES

The barista segment came into its own during the pandemic, when people were drinking more of their coffee at home and wanted to make their own espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccino. Now it’s a strong contributor to the creamer category, due to higher household penetration of espresso machines in-home and more volume consumed in each beverage, leading to healthy velocities. nutpods has the only alternatively sweetened Barista style Oatmilk in the category, and these offerings have half the calories (or less) of other options, says Edward McDonald, chief sales officer of the Bellevue, Wash.-based brand. The Original and Cinnamon Dolce flavors “deliver a rich, creamy espresso-based beverage with zero grams of sugar. We like to say the frothabilities are endless,” he adds. “And, shoppers have found that they also save a lot by making their own espresso-based beverages at home.”

nutpods has a history of launching innovative flavors and its newest variety is no exception. After nutpods Coffee Cake creamer flavor spiked online, the company brought it to retail in a larger 25.4-ounce carton. Consumers are responding well to new flavors, as the company found with its Toasted Marshmallow and Cookie Butter varieties, according to McDonald.  

Nutpods’ Coffee Cake is among its differentiated and innovative flavors such as Toasted
Marshmallow and Cookie Butter.

He adds that the unsweetened varieties are important to shoppers. “Consumers are seeking low- and no-sugar options, and we give them a choice. They can enjoy their coffee with one of our creamers only and if they choose, also sweeten it with whatever they prefer.”

An opportunity to build velocity within the Barista segment lies in driving consumer trial and awareness. One option to support this need is to merchandise and promote multiple brands together when feasible, according to nutpods’ McDonald. “Create a destination and drive awareness of the options available. Make them easy to find rather than mixed in among traditional creamers,” he suggests.

Chobani’s Paolucci agrees with this, categorywide. “When testing shelf merchandising, grouping items by segment works best for the category. That means keeping traditional brands, like Coffee-Mate and International Delight, and Clean Creamer (dairy-based and plant-based creamers) and half & half/cream in separate blocks,” he says. 

Los Angeles-based Califia Farms recently added Pumpkin Spice Oat Barista, an ultra-creamy, dairy-free creamer to its fall lineup. It will be available through December. Made with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, it is billed as an easy way to create café-quality pumpkin spice lattes at home. The 32-ounce cartons carry a suggested retail of $4.59.

The fall seasonal items — also including Pumpkin Spice Latte (48 ounces, SRP of $5.69) and Pumpkin Spice Almondmilk Creamer (25.4 ounces, SRP of $5.09) — come in new packaging. As with all Califia products, they are dairy-free, vegan, Kosher, and Non-GMO Certified.

International Delight has rolled out three Grinch-themed holiday creamers, in Gingerbread Cookie Dough, Peppermint Mocha and Frosted Sugar Cookie.

The newest product from New Barn Organics, Rohnert Park, Calif., is Organic Barista Almondmilk, available in quarts. “It’s a true fan favorite with a clean ingredient deck,” says Kerry Robb, marketing manager. She notes it can be enjoyed straight from the carton, steamed for espresso drinks, or poured straight into coffee or tea — whether it is hot or cold — as a creamer. “It steams beautifully because we use a natural (and USDA organic-approved) agent called Aquamin that’s made using sea minerals sustainably sourced off of the coast of Iceland,” she adds.

Robb notes that the organic almonds used come from a co-op of small-scale farmers in Europe. New Barn Organics sources only dry-farmed heirloom varieties, “which means significantly less water is used and the almonds’ flavor is naturally richer,” she explains. Besides being certified organic, the product is also Kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, and has no so-called “natural flavors” or fillers.

Califia Farms recently added Pumpkin Spice Oat Barista, an ultra-creamy, dairy-free creamer to its fall lineup. It will be available through December.

Danone North America’s coffee and creamer portfolio — which includes International Delight, Dunkin’ and STōK — are supporting the at-home consumption trends, which will be around for the long haul, according to Kallie Goodwin, vp of marketing, traditional creamers at Danone North America.

International Delight has been tapping into unique pop-culture and flavor trends, including one-of-a-kind offerings inspired by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Fruity PEBBLES, Cocoa PEBBLES, Buddy the ELF, and – this holiday season – The Grinch, in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. 

STōK offers a variety of ready-to drink cold brew products, with both multi-serve and single-serve in coffee varieties including black (lighter or darker roasts), creamed (vanilla and mocha) and seasonal (pumpkin). The brand is giving away custom temporary tattoos to cold brew fanatics in-store, and gaining exposure via online promotions and contests. 

HP Hood launched Planet Oat Sweet Crème Oatmilk Creamer in quarts early this year. It is non-GMO certified and free of dairy, nuts, gluten, soy, lactose, tree nuts and artificial flavors/ colors/preservatives.

Dunkin’ Pumpkin Munchkin Creamer, debuted this season under Danone’s licensed portfolio with Dunkin’, is the brand’s first-ever seasonal at-home creamer. 

Chobani launched dairy-based coffee creamers in 2019 with classic and seasonal flavors with natural ingredients, farm-fresh cream, and no artificial flavors or preservatives. Earlier this year, it introduced a fan-inspired flavor — Sizzlin’ Brown Sugar — which was voted on by the public to become a limited-batch product. 

Following the launch of dairy-based creamers, Chobani introduced oat-based and plant-based coffee creamers, meeting demand for vegan-friendly and lactose-free options that match the performance of dairy creamers in coffee. Its oat-based and plant-based coffee creamers come in classic and seasonal flavors, like Peppermint Mocha and Pumpkin Spice.

Warren Thayer

Warren Thayer

Warren is the Editor Emeritus, Managing Partner for Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer.

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