Consumers are very satisfied with the food and beverage industries, according to this year’s American Customer Satisfaction Index report.
The ACSI results are based on interviews with more than 5,200 consumers. The three food and beverage categories — food manufacturing, soft drinks, and breweries — took three of the top four spots. All three had scores of over 80 (on a 0 to 100 scale), which is considered excellent. “The industry overall continues to deliver strong quality and customer perceptions of value are on the rise,” the report states.
The food manufacturing category scored an 82 this year, which is the same as last year. Hershey and PepsiCo’s Quaker brand were the highest-rated companies. Both earned scores of 84. Dole, General Mills, Mars, Campbell Soup, Conagra, Kraft Heinz, Nestle’s Ferrero brand, Kellog, and Tyson also all scored above 80.
While these results are positive, there is a discrepancy between the large companies on this list and the smaller food brands that were not itemized in the results. Namely, none of the big 11 brands gained in score this year — three of them stayed the same, while eight saw 1-2% declines. The fact that the overall industry remained stable is due to a 1% increase for the “all others” category. This category, which includes smaller brands, collectively earned an 84. The report concludes: “Quality perceptions have improved for the smaller brands and their value is deemed superior to all of the major manufacturers as they compete well when it comes to pricing.”
The soft drink industry also remained stable with a score of 82. Keurig Dr Pepper, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola held the top three spots.
The industry could see some headwinds, though. The report cites consumer preferences that are moving toward non-carbonated drinks and the implementation of soda taxes in certain jurisdictions as reasons for caution. However, these developments aren’t affecting the satisfaction of people who still buy soft drinks. “Amid these shifts, the industry is almost completely deadlocked for customer satisfaction as those who choose soft drinks remain happy with their purchases overall,” the report concludes.
With a score of 84 (down 1% from last year), breweries are not only the highest-ranked food and beverage industry, they are the highest-ranked among all 46 industries ACSI examined.
While craft brewers continue to outrank large brewers, it’s not by much. Anheuser-Busch InBev had a score of 84, compared to 85 for “all others.” The report notes that large brewers are using light beers to appeal to consumers’ desire for healthier products. “In addition, big and small brewers alike are diversifying through hard seltzers. Nevertheless, ACSI data show that craft brewers still hold an advantage when it comes to their products—scoring best in class for quality.”
Taken together, the results affirm a trend that’s been growing for the past several years: smaller food and beverage brands are seen as providing higher quality and better value than larger ones. Fortunately for companies of all sizes, consumers still see the industry as excellent overall.