Retail Coffee Sales Jump 17% to $7 Billion

Bean prices, single-cup formats contribute to increase

NEW YORK -- Retail sales of coffee reached $7.3 billion in 2011, an increase of nearly 17% over 2010, according to "Coffee & Ready-to-Drink Coffee in the U.S.," a report just released by market research firm Packaged Facts.

Because coffee is a mature market, dollar sales growth is driven by consumers paying higher prices for coffee products. Four main factors are behind higher prices: rising prices for "green" (raw) coffee beans that have been passed along the entire distribution chain--the "premiumization" of coffee; the nation's still-growing thirst for specialty coffee beverages; and the "phenomenal" growth of single-serve coffee packet formats, it said.

The Food Institute estimated that wholesale coffee prices rose 18% for the first nine months of 2011, while retail prices increased 13.5% because retailers did not pass along all of these higher costs to consumers.

Regular (caffeinated) ground coffee, the largest coffee category at retail, accounts for almost 60% of dollar sales of coffee through mass-market channels. The report said that single-cup coffee formats, a category "scarcely worth tracking five years ago," now claims 7.5% of retail coffee sales, with its surge coming largely at the expense of regular instant coffee.

Single-serve portion packs typically cost 65 cents to $1, making them considerably more expensive than brewing the same brand of coffee from loose grounds, but still less than buying a comparable beverage in a coffeehouse.

According to David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, a September 2011 survey conducted for the report found that 21% of households that make coffee (other than instant) at home own an electric single-cup coffeemaker (based on formats such as pods, K-Cups or T-Discs), and 18% use it regularly.

Although the U.S. single-cup market is dominated by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters with its proprietary Keurig K-Cup brewing system, growth in the category has attracted a growing range of participants. In the past year, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks have launched single-cup coffee formats, making Peet's the only major coffee brand that does not yet have a single-cup presentation.

With the continued premiumization of coffee over the past decade, many new packaged coffee products introduced over the past five years have been positioned as "upscale," which was the top package tag for new coffee products introduced from 2006 through 2010, according to data from Product Launch Analytics, a Datamonitor service.

During 2011, however, private-label coffee introductions came to the fore, with new coffee lines or extended offerings pouring in from retailers as diverse as A&P, Dollar General, Trader Joe's and Wegmans, in keeping with the surging importance of store brands across packaged food and beverage categories.

Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, consumer packaged goods (including foods and beverages, health and beauty care, and household products) and pet products and services.