2022 Annual Food & Beverage Study


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What are shoppers buying, and how frequently are they buying those items?

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Our study looks at 18 key categories accounting for over 20% of consumer packed goods (CPG) retail dollars.

Purchasing for most categories has come back down to 2020 levels, with the biggest drops for Salty Snacks, Ready-to-Eat Cereals, Cookies, and Crackers.

“We might be able to consider this a return to normal,” says Jordan. “These categories with the largest declines are some that are highly consumed at home.”

“And we think the decline is due to less at-home consumption rather than inflation, since most categories are returning to their 2020 level rather than declining further,” Jordan elaborates.

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One-third of all the shoppers we surveyed are Heavy Buyers, meaning they frequently shop most categories. Heavy Buyers shop for Salty Snacks and Cookies more regularly than shoppers in general. So even though the trends in these categories are down, they are still important to Heavy Buyers as they appeal to this variety-seeking group.

Heavy Buyers are twice as likely to be households with kids. Households with kids are more frequently shopping for Bottled Water, Frozen Ice Cream Novelties, and Sports Drinks. “This makes sense. People are outside the house and enjoying activities again, needing drinks and snacks on the go,” adds Bill.

Shoppers purchasing low-calorie, diet, low-fat, and organic items have returned to 2020 levels. We added a new attribute this year and found that one in ten shoppers are buying plant-based drinks and snacks.


What are shoppers doing to save money?

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We asked shoppers about 10 deal tactics they regularly use:

  • Everyday Low Prices
  • Store Brand Products
  • Better Deals for Regular Products
  • Loyalty Cards/Rewards
  • Larger Sizes for Better Value
  • Store Circular
  • Online Coupons
  • Bonus Sizes
  • Sunday Coupons
  • Rebates

We found that one in ten shoppers use deal tactics heavily, with most shoppers using at least three deal tactics regularly. Of all shoppers, only 7% don’t use any deal tactics.

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Shoppers continue to go to stores with Everyday Low Prices as the number one deal tactic. This has been true for all 10 years we’ve done this survey! Couponing continues to decrease in usage.

We saw a large increase in shoppers reporting they bought store brand or private label products. Jordan assumes this comes from the value proposition and increased quality of private label products. “Consumption data confirms that private label products are performing really well, in food as well as other categories in the grocery store,” adds Bill.

Where are shoppers going to buy products?

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Fewer shoppers are heading to traditional grocery stores to shop. More and more are buying groceries online. In our first survey in 2013, only 1% of shoppers reported buying groceries online. And back then, the big players were companies like FreshDirect and Peapod, instead of the top players today: Amazon and Walmart. “Walmart’s first pilot of online grocery pick-up was in Denver in 2013,” adds Jordan.

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While both click-and-collect and online delivery keep growing year over year, online delivery is the preferred method for online grocery shopping. Bill points out, “Online grocery is here to stay. We at TABS are spending more and more time analyzing trends with an omnichannel focus.”

Jordan adds: “We still do a lot of testing in brick and mortar, but more and more CPGs are coming to us with research questions pertaining to their online business.”

How has online shopping evolved?

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The number of online shoppers has increased significantly in the past three years.

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Walmart and Amazon are the most popular places to shop for groceries online, and both are growing year over year. Amazon was lackluster with shoppers in 2021. Jordan speculates Amazon grocery has grown in 2022 through “expanding markets, delivery options, and prime member benefits.” Club stores, such as Sam’s Club and Costco, have also seen growth in online grocery shopping year over year.

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Not surprisingly, refrigerated items are bought online less often than shelf-stable foods. Candy, Popcorn, and Meat Snacks are all popular with online shoppers.

Shoppers prefer in-store shopping for the best deals and most of their snacks. In-store shopping is also when they tend to impulse buy. “This is not surprising, thanks to all the displays and at-register opportunities to impulse buy,” says Jordan.

Shoppers go online for convenience, budgeting, and speed of shopping. “Merchandising and assortment are just as important online as they are in-store. Manufacturers and retailers need to work together to optimize and increase basket size,” adds Bill.

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2022 Annual Food & Beverage Study Conclusions

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  • Purchasing has come back down to 2020 levels.
  • Households with kids remain the heaviest buying demographic, particularly in Bottled Water, Frozen Ice Cream Novelties, and Sports Drinks.
  • Everyday Low Price continued to be the most popular deal tactic, and Store Brands have seen an increase in purchase frequency.
  • Online grocery continues to grow.
  • Value grocery (Aldi) remains strong.
  • Walmart continues to grow online, but Amazon is making gains.

Check out the engaging Q&A session! (Video time: 36:20)

Research Methodology

  • What: Online survey using Decision Insight’s DecisionVelocity™ custom digital platform. Respondents were recruited from a permission-based list and were directed to the URL where they began the survey process. Each respondent received a nominal incentive for completing the survey.
  • Who: Annually, approximately 1,000 US Gen Pop consumers with a mix of gender, age (18+), incomes, ethnicity, and region. Balanced demographics year to year.
  • When: July 13–21, 2022

About Tabs

TABS Analytics gives you a competitive advantage by simplifying the way you deal with your CPG data and giving you the power to easily extract competitive insights. We’re a technology-enabled analytics firm that’s been serving the consumer packaged goods industry since 1998.


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