2017 new product pacesetters: Top 10 food, beverage brands

Information Resources Inc. (IRI), released its 2017 New Product Pacesetters™ report identifying the most successful consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands based on exceptional first-year dollar sales for 200 brands that captured cumulative sales of more than $4.6 billion.

Judie Bizzozero, Content Director

April 18, 2018

3 Min Read
2017 new product pacesetters: Top 10 food, beverage brands

Of the thousands of new brands that hit retail shelves during 2017, 49 percent of the top-ranking brands hailed from small manufacturers—those earning less than $1 billion annually—and accounting for 26 percent of Pacesetter dollars.

The top 100 food and beverage New Product Pacesetters averaged $14.5 million year-one dollar sales, excluding Halo Top, which earned year-one sales of $342.2 million. All top 10 New Product Pacesetter brands were new market entrants, though many benefited from the equity their manufacturers already enjoy in the marketplace.

IRI singled out Millennials as key drivers for brand success because they are continuously on the lookout for new, exciting and unique experiences, which is pushing innovation into new territory. While frugal, Millennials will spend on things that matter to them. Of the 20 largest 2017 Pacesetter brands, 85 percent command a price premium compared to their respective category averages. PepsiCo’s LIFEWTR, for instance, sells at a significant premium compared to other convenience/still waters. The brand hit strong in the market as a purified water, pH-balanced with electrolytes added for taste. Millennials also are embracing wellness and self-care to ward off ailments. Campbell’s Well Yes! soup easily meets this demand because it features clean, simple and nutritious ingredients to make healthy eating quick and easy.

The top 10 food and beverage brands making the 2017 New Product Pacesetters list include:

  1. Halo Top® $324.2 million

  2. GOOD THiNS® $87 million

  3. Dunkin’ Donuts® Iced Coffee $67.1 million

  4. Nestlé® Splash™ $55.2 million

  5. LIFEWTR™ $50.4 million

  6. SMARTMADE™ by Smart Ones® $49.3 million

  7. HERSHEY'S® Cookie Layer Crunch™ $47.7 million

  8. Hillshire® Snacking $47.5 million

  9. Well Yes!® $47.3 million

  10. Cracker Barrel® Macaroni & Cheese $46.6 million

“Consumers are demanding products that are customized to their needs, and this type of targeted innovation continues to put small and niche companies on the New Product Pacesetter map,” said Susan Viamari, vice president of Thought Leadership for IRI. “Just five years ago, an estimated nine out of every 10 Pacesetters launched were extensions of existing brand lines. In 2017, 40 percent of food and beverage and 25 percent of non-food Pacesetters were brands entirely new to the CPG marketplace. This clearly demonstrates consumers’ willingness to try ‘unknown’ brands. Millennials, in particular, are more moved by experiences and solutions to their needs and less likely to purchase based solely on brand name.”

Overall, candy and gum accounted for 9 percent of food Pacesetter dollars. The largest launch in this area was Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch. In the dinner sector, the largest launch was SmartMade by Smart Ones, a nutritious frozen meal inspired by the quality ingredients and smart cooking techniques used in the home. Eighteen of the 76 food Pacesetters are breakfast solutions, which cater to consumers at both ends of the wellness spectrum by offering both indulgent flavor experiences, such as Kellogg’s Cinnamon Frosted Flakes (ranked 19th) and healthier, on-the-go options, like Jimmy Dean Delights Frittatas (ranked 23rd).

In the convenience store arena, median year-one sales across the top 10 IRI New Product Pacesetters were $31.7 million, demonstrating the power behind consumers’ ongoing quests for indulgent, on-the-go experiences.

Most of top 10 products in this channel in 2017 were beverages. And as seen among food and beverage and non-food Pacesetters, categories are starting to blend and blur more. For instance, Monster, which is known as an energy drink brand, launched Monster Mutant Super Soda, a carbonated soft drink. And carbonated beverage Mountain Dew Black Label developed packaging that looks very similar to energy drink cans. All the top 10 convenience-channel Pacesetters are pure indulgence products (except for bottled water), which reflects consumers’ ongoing desire for healthier-for-you indulgences.

The top 10 convenience store brands making the 2015 New Product Pacesetters list include:

  1. Red Bull® Green Edition™ $110.7 million

  2. LIFEWTR™ $107.6 million

  3. Monster® Mutant™ Super Soda $42.3 million

  4. HERSHEY'S® Cookie Layer Crunch™ $41 million

  5. MTN DEW® PITCH BLACK® $38.6 million

  6. Four Loko® Gold $34.7 million

  7. MTN DEW® BLACK LABEL® $32.8 million

  8. Sprite® Tropical Mix™ $32.5 million

  9. KIT KAT® BIG KAT® $30.9 million

  10. Pepsi® Cherry Vanilla $23.4 million

IRI also named 10 Rising Stars based on innovation that demonstrates the power of extravagance and indulgence that doesn’t derail nutritional goals:

  • Gatorade Flow

  • Hershey’s Gold

  • Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles

  • Kinder Joy

  • Lay's Poppables

  • M&M’s Caramel

  • Oui by Yoplait

  • Ritz Crisp & Thins


  • Sunsweet Amazin

About the Author(s)

Judie Bizzozero

Content Director, Informa Markets Health & Nutrition

Judie Bizzozero oversees food and beverage content strategy and development for the Health & Nutrition group at Informa Markets (which acquired VIRGO in 2014), including the Food & Beverage Insider, Natural Products Insider and SupplySide/Food ingredients North America brands. She reports on market trends, science-based ingredients, and challenges and solutions in the development of healthy foods and beverages. Bizzozero graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

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