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Despite a challenging year, many food and beverage products found huge success, according to IRI’s 2020 New Product Pacesetters™ report, released this month. The report was compiled based on insights from IRI’s New Product Innovation Practice’s suite of analytical and decision-making tools in addition to the 2021 IRI New Product Survey.

IRI’s data showed consumers balancing indulgence with self-care. Many new products emerged as winners despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in multiple $100 million launches. Over a quarter of the New Product Pacemakers that were launched in the fourth quarter of 2019 or January 2020 accounted for 51 of 200 Pacesetter products — 27 of which were in the food and beverage sector.

The Top 10 Food and Beverage New Products Pacesetters for 2020 are:

  1. Bud Light® Seltzer
  2. Truly® Lemonade
  3. Mtn Dew® Zero Sugar
  4. Starbucks® Creamers
  5. Rebel™ Ice Cream
  6. Reign™
  7. Cheetos® Popcorn
  8. Kinder Bueno®
  10. Beyond Sausage®

According to the report, these New Product Pacesetters show that health and indulgence can co-exist. Even though good-for-you products were becoming more popular before the pandemic, this trend is reflected in new project launches, as some consumers were looking to boost health and avoid illness. Ice cream and frozen novelty foods were also sought-after items for consumers looking to elevate their experience at home.

IRI also found that performance beverages monopolized C-Store sales, with ZYN® at the top of the list with $339.2 million in sales. Six of the top 10 C-Store products were energy drinks.

The Top 10 C-Store Pacesetters for 2020 Are:

  1. ZYN®
  2. Reign™
  3. Bud Light® Seltzer
  4. Red Bull® Peach Edition
  5. Monster Energy® Ultra Paradise™
  6. Starbucks® Tripleshot™ Energy
  7. Mtn Dew® Zero Sugar
  8. Starbucks® Frappuccino® with a splash of Cold Brew
  9. Red Bull® Pear Edition
  10. Coca-Cola® Energy

According to Larry Levin, executive vice president, Market and Shopper Intelligence and Thought Leadership, IRI, “IRI’s 2020 New Product Pacesetters and its consumer attitudes survey about new products tell a story of people staying at home, but still seeking out products and brands that offered indulgence and comfort amid the chaos of COVID-19.”

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