IRI Launches CPG Inflation Tracker, COVID-19 Resource

Which categories are experiencing significant inflation? IRI data reveals key insights--and IRI surveys indicate that more than 70% of shoppers are feeling the pinch.

Chicago, IL—The CPG industry continues to change amid the COVID-19 crisis, and to help CPG manufacturers and retailers navigate, IRI has launched its new IRI CPG Inflation Tracker. According to a press release from IRI, the tool, which is accessible on its free online COVID-19 Data Dashboard, is designed to help brands and retailers assess in real time the way pricing is evolving due to the supply chain and economic impacts of the pandemic, so they are better able to quickly adapt their strategies.

The tool provides a standard metric for tracking weekly price-per-unit changes for consumer packaged goods compared to the year-ago period across departments, including fixed and random weight products, grocery aisles and retail formats, IRI explaind in the release. It will be updated weekly with IRI’s point-of-sale data. Measured channels include convenience and multi-outlets (food, drug, mass, club, dollar, military), including click-and-collect orders for all brick-and-mortar stores, as well as delivery services like Instacart.

“COVID-19 is severely impacting the supply chains of products throughout the store, resulting in large pricing fluctuations across categories and shopping channels week to week,” Dr. Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey, President of Strategic Analytics for IRI, said in the release.

Dr. Davey added that pprice per unit inflation can be attributed to four factors:

  1. Increases in price per volume due to price increases;
  2. Prices rising due to reduced price promotions;
  3. Trading up to higher priced products;
  4. Purchasing of larger packages that cost more as consumers stay at home and consume more.

“For example,” Dr. Davey explained, “the price per unit of milk in multi-outlets during the past few weeks has increased 9%, made up of a roughly 5-6% increase in price per volume and a 3% higher volume per unit, compared to the same period last year. Our new inflation tracker helps CPG manufacturers and retailers react more quickly to volatile pricing trends, enabling them to ensure their products are priced appropriately and anticipate consumer reactions to further changes in price.”

IRI also shared key insights revealed by the IRI CPG Inflation Tracker in recent weeks:

  • During the week of April 26, 2020, average prices per unit in edible departments were up 10% compared to the same week in 2019; prices of nonedible aisles were up an average of 5%.
  • Pricing in the meat and bakery categories experienced significant inflation compared to the year-ago period, with 11% and 9% increases, respectively. 
  • The price per unit of items in the frozen food, refrigerated food, beverages and beverage alcohol categories were all up more than 10% compared to the same week last year.
  • Among nonedible departments, paper products drove the increase in prices, up 20% over prices the same week last year.
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Dr. Davey also noted that the index can be used in conjunction with the IRI CPG Demand Index, which measures consumer purchases, by dollar sales, against the year-ago period. “CPG manufacturers and retailers can easily compare data between the two platforms to better understand the relationship between supply and demand as consumer spending habits change and businesses gear up to recession-proof their portfolios,” he said in the release. “We typically see the sales volume of food products decline shortly after major price increases in large store formats. Interestingly, similar patterns appeared during the Great Recession: food inflation was high, and unit and volume sales declined across many grocery categories. By comparing data between IRI’s Demand and Inflation indices, you can see a similar trend as today’s shoppers start to shift toward value-tier brands or private label products as prices of consumer goods inflate in the recessionary period. In fact, IRI surveys indicate that more than 70% of shoppers are already feeling the pinch and think prices have risen in the past few weeks.”