Strong Center Store Sales Continue in 2021

Center-Store-Sales-by-Category, graph
Rice is tops in sales categories during the pandemic
Nov 16, 2021
ARLINGTON, VA -- Supermarket News recently published its 2021 Center Store Trends Report, and the findings present a positive outlook for the continuation of increased rice retail sales experienced in 2020.  The report, which collected responses from retailers and wholesalers throughout August 2021, covered center store sale figures, shopping trends, sales strategies, and investments into private label offerings.

“Of all the findings from the trends report, the most important for rice is the overwhelming statistic that eighty percent of surveyed retailers anticipate center of store sales to stay steady with the 2020 boosted levels or even increase in 2021,” said Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president of marketing and domestic promotion.

According to the report, shoppers have moved on from the bulk purchasing that existed in the early days of COVID-19, but when it comes to shelf-stable grocery items, like U.S.-grown rice, purchasing behaviors still reflect the increase of at-home cooking that continues to fuel center stores sales.  More than half of the retailers surveyed experienced a ten percent growth in 2020 center store sales, and forty percent anticipate unit sales to increase by another five percent.
“After more than a year, the impact of COVID on consumer shopping behaviors persists,” said Klein.  “Purchasing habits developed in early 2020, position the U.S. rice industry for another year of increased sales at the retail level.  Additionally, increased investments in private labels by retailers and rising consumer acceptance of those in-house brands offer up another growth opportunity for the industry.”

The growth opportunity for private labels comes from discount pricing, quality improvements, out of stock staple brands, and customers’ new willingness to experiment with different brands.  Relevant to rice, retailers plan to strengthen private label offerings in key areas like natural and organic products (47 percent), specialty gluten-free and plant-based products (29 percent), and multicultural products (25 percent).

Another research finding from 2021 was the effectiveness of cross-merchandising shelf-stable groceries with complementary fresh foods, a strategy that helped boost shelf-stable groceries to the top-seller spot for center store sales.

See more findings from the report here.