A month ago, the snack savants at Nabisco released what is arguably the company’s most decadent cookie creation to date: The Most Stuf' Oreos, which are filled with more than triple the popular vanilla-flavored creme compared to an average Oreo. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the crammed cookie is a conversation starter and highlights an important truth in the cookie industry: indulgence still sells.
This indulgence factor spurred the U.S. packaged cookie market to total retail dollar sales of $11 billion in 2018, according to leading market research firm Packaged Facts in the recent report U.S. Food Market Outlook 2019. The market increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2% between 2013 and 2018.
Packaged Facts’ research reveals that taste is the biggest driver of choice, and consumers continue to seek out products that offer new exciting tastes and experiences. Some consumers, especially younger people, want even more indulgent, decadent, and unique choices. Darker chocolates, double and triple chocolate, stuffed cookies, richer cream fillings, and frostings are all part of the decadently delicious cookie landscape.
Despite its gains, the retail cookie segment is not without its challenges. No matter how strong the allure to indulge may be, marketers who ignore consumers with needs for healthier snacks due to diet and health concerns risk leaving money on the table. As a result, in recent years, industry leaders including The Hershey Company and PepsiCo have committed to innovating in the better-for-you snack space. Meanwhile, other consumers are buying lower-priced or private label to save money, while some consumers are choosing to buy cookies fresh in specialty and in-store bakeries. Cookies also facing greater competition from other indulgent snack foods and healthy snacks. All these factors could contribute to constraining overall sales growth of packaged cookies.
Looking ahead, the future for the cookie market remains sweet. Packaged Facts projects retail dollar sales of the packaged cookies market will exceed $12 billion in 2023, increasing by a CAGR of more than 2% from 2018. Ultimately, Americans will always love cookies and growth will be driven by both private label and premium products that deliver more nutrition or indulgence with unique flavors and formats.