CHICAGO -- Baby-food sales stayed healthy in 1998, according to recent scan data from ACNeilsen here.
ategories tracked by ACNeilsen for food/drug/mass stores. Formula led, in dollars and in percentage gain.
The next greatest gain was seen by junior baby food, with a 2.9% increase, for sales of $2.1 million. But sales in the strained baby-food category were higher, at $3.9 million, while it increased by 1.4% compared with the previous year.
Baby cereal and biscuits, a $151 million category, was up by 2.3% last year, but baby-juice sales of $129 million represented a drop of 2.4%. However this was less severe than the decline in 1997, which was 7.8%.
Item buyers for baby food as a whole were 16.5 million last year, actually less than two years before, according to ACNeilsen's Homescan Consumer Facts report for the years of 1996 and 1998. For 1996, there were 17.6 million households buying baby food. This was 17.8% of all U.S. households, versus 16.3% penetration for last year.
Almost 16% of the time, baby-item purchasers perceived that they were buying an item on sale last year, more than in 1996, when it was 15.4%.
According to ACNeilsen, purchase size in dollars was $10.19 for all baby food, per shopping occasion. For formula, it was $20.73; for baby cereal and biscuits, $2.11; for strained food, $4.22; for baby juice, $2.73 and for junior baby food, $3.83.