Home » IRI/Boston Consulting Group Announce 2021 U.S. CPG Growth Leaders

IRI/Boston Consulting Group Announce 2021 U.S. CPG Growth Leaders

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IRI, a global technology leader in innovative solutions and services for consumer, retail and media companies, and Boston Consulting Group, published the 10th annual CPG Growth Leaders study. Findings revealed that the total U.S. CPG industry grew roughly 3 percent in 2021, versus an expected sharper slowdown from 2020 – a year in which pandemic driven shifts in consumer behavior drove over 10 percent CPG growth.

The report also revealed 2021’s growth leaders among large, medium and small CPG companies, and included key priorities and themes for driving CPG growth in 2022 and beyond.

“The results of our study demonstrate the beginning of a return to historical consumption trends and behaviors, though demand is elevated from the pre-pandemic period,” said Krishnakumar “KK” S. Davey, president of client engagement for IRI. “Findings also highlight that across large, midsized and small CPG companies, the 2021 growth leaders won by navigating the continued pressures of the COVID-19 consumer behavior and operational environments, while also responding to strong consumer trends.

“Our ongoing research with BCG is representative of IRI’s dedication to identifying and distilling actionable insights to support our CPG clients in achieving growth.”

Key findings

  • 2021 U.S. CPG sales growth of 2.7 percent was driven by increased pricing, inflation and reduced promotional activity. On a volume basis, overall U.S. CPG sales decreased roughly 2 percent compared to the explosive 10.6 percent dollar growth in 2020 driven by the pandemic.
  • Two-year trends show growth over pre-pandemic periods. Compared to 2019, overall CPG volume sales grew 4.3 percent in 2021, quite elevated over historical norms.
  • Large and small CPGs took share from midsize players, with different tactics. While large CPG companies used pricing actions in 2021 to gain market share for the first time in over five years, small CPGs capitalized on continued supply constraints impacting competitors to expand their market share.
  • Branded CPGs took share from private label. While both branded CPGs and private labels grew significantly in 2020, branded CPGs were able to sustain growth in 2021.
  • 2021 growth leaders capitalized on key consumer trends. Self-care, convenient meals, indulgence and home care were the four main themes of the 2021 CPG winners.
  • Operational capabilities were critical for 2021 success. Following the peak of pandemic disruption in 2020, pricing, supply chain fulfillment and omnichannel reach/execution were critical operational enablers for growth leader success in 2021.

Growth leader rankings

With more than 20 percent growth, Red Bull was the 2021 growth leader among large companies with over $6 billion in 2021 sales, after moving up from the top 15 in the midsize category in 2020. Red Bull was followed by Procter & Gamble, Constellation Brands, Unilever, Hershey and Reckitt.

“One of the most interesting trends we saw emerge in this year’s growth leader lists was that large CPG manufacturers grew share for the first time in five years – and nine out of 10 large growth leaders grew volume despite lapping significantly elevated volumes from 2020,” said Aman Gupta, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group.

“Looking forward, we expect that CPGs with flexible and dynamic supply chains, strong omnichannel capabilities, enhanced productivity solutions and the ability to adapt their portfolio to respond to consumer trends will be best positioned to win in 2022 and beyond.”

A copy of “2021 U.S. CPG Growth Leaders” can be downloaded here.

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