Here are 2017's most successful food and beverage brands!

Small companies now account for 25 percent of these leaders. Innovation trends are heavily influenced by millennials.

Halo Top pistachio flavor in carton
Halo Top pistachio flavor in carton

IRIĀ® announced last yearā€™s most successful consumer packaged goods launches in its 2017 New Product Pacesettersā„¢ report, an analysis of exceptional first-year new product sales success. Thousands of new brands hit retail shelves during 2017, with 49 percent of the top-ranking brands hailing from small manufacturers ā€” defined as those earning less than $1 billion annually ā€” and accounting for 26 percent of Pacesetter dollars. Overall, the top-selling 200 new brands captured cumulative year-one sales of more than $4.6 billion across IRIā€™s multi-outlet geography.

ā€œConsumers 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,ā€ says Susan Viamari, vice president of Thought Leadership for IRI. ā€œJust 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 consumersā€™ willingness to try ā€˜unknownā€™ brands. Millennials, in particular, are more moved by experiences and solutions to their needs and less likely to purchase based solely on brand name.ā€

ā€œSmaller, more targeted product launches have become the new norm in CPG aisles, as manufacturers look to enhance impact with launches that align more closely with key consumer needs and wants,ā€ adds Larry Levin, executive vice president of Consumer and Shopper Marketing for IRI. ā€œIn a testament to the power of this shift, 20 percent of this yearā€™s top-selling launches earned less than $10 million during their first year on the shelves, continuing a trend we found in last yearā€™s analysis.ā€

For the top 100 food and beverage champions, median year-one sales were $14.5 million, excluding outlier Halo Top, which earned year-one sales of $342.2 million. All of the top 10 New Product Pacesetter brands were new market entrants, though many of these ā€” including Dunkinā€™ Donuts Iced Coffee, NestlĆ© Splash and Hersheyā€™s Cookie Layer Crunch ā€” certainly benefited from the equity their manufacturers already enjoy in the marketplace.

Itā€™s no surprise that millennials are eager adopters of new CPG products, accordingto IRI. This group, says IRI, is continuously on the lookout for new, exciting and unique experiences. This quest for newness is pushing innovation into new territory.

While frugal, millennials will spend on things that matter to them, according to the report. Of the 20 largest 2017 Pacesetter brands, 85 percent command a price premium compared to their respective category averages. PepsiCoā€™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 are also embracing wellness and self-care to ward off ailments, says the IRI report. Campbellā€™s Well Yes! soup easily meets this demand because it features clean, simple and nutritious ingredients to make healthy eating quick and easy.  

2017 New Product Pacesetters: Top 10 Food and Beverage Brands

($ Millions)

(Total Year-One Dollar Sales, Multi-Outlet)

1. Halo TopĀ®




3. Dunkin' DonutsĀ® Iced Coffee


4. NestlĆ©Ā® Splashā„¢




6. SMARTMADEā„¢ by Smart OnesĀ®


7. HERSHEY'SĀ® Cookie Layer Crunchā„¢


8. HillshireĀ® Snacking


9. Well Yes!Ā®


10. Cracker BarrelĀ® Macaroni & Cheese


Source: IRI Market Advantageā„¢

In the dinner sector, the largest launch was SmartMade by Smart Ones, a 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 Kelloggā€™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 consumersā€™ ongoing quests for indulgent, on-the-go experiences.

2017 New Product Pacesetters: Top 10 Convenience Store Brands 

($ Millions)

(Total Year-One Dollar Sales, Convenience Store Channel)

1. Red BullĀ® Green Editionā„¢




3. MonsterĀ® Mutantā„¢  Super Soda


4. HERSHEY'SĀ® Cookie Layer Crunchā„¢




6. Four LokoĀ® Gold




8. SpriteĀ® Tropical Mixā„¢




10. PepsiĀ® Cherry Vanilla


Source: IRI Market Advantageā„¢

Most of top 10 products in the convenience store 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 of the top 10 convenience-channel Pacesetters are pure indulgence products (except for bottled water), which reflects consumersā€™ ongoing desire for healthier-for-you indulgences.

To download the full report, visit:



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