TABS Analytics Blog

Food and Beverage Market Continues Significant Growth Trajectory, TABS Analytics 2021 Consumables Survey Reveals

E-commerce Grocery Sales Rise, But Quest for Profitability Persists


Contrary to the fears of many in the industry, sales of food and beverages continued a two-year growth trajectory, even after the economy opened up following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the TABS Analytics 2021 Annual Food and Beverage Consumables Survey revealed.

Key findings from the study include:

    • Deal usage remains strong: Even though availability of deals has tapered off, 84% of consumers use more than two deal tactics regularly, with 16% using seven or more. Every day low price (EDLP) is the most frequently used deal tactic, followed by active shopping for deals and large sizes.



    • Consumers exchange loyalty for deals: Very few grocers capture more than a 50% share, considering that the typical shopper purchases at more than five outlets on a regular basis (6+ times per year). Rather than focusing on loyalty, retailers should seek to grow the number of trips per shopper annually and capture more transactions on each visit.



    • E-commerce grocery delivery is still king, but pick-up is picking up: 19% of adults rely on delivery regularly (6+ times per year) for e-commerce grocery purchases, while 10% rely on pickup regularly, up two percentage points from last year’s study. 6% purchase through both formats regularly.



  • Winners vs. losers: Low-cost grocer Aldi, e-commerce and convenience stores saw upticks in 2021, while Costco, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods declined.


The TABS Analytics survey also showed that Walmart is winning in e-commerce grocery, with 32% of U.S. transactions. Additionally, results indicate that e-commerce grocery continued to be strong, nearly doubling over the past four years. With approximately 35% of consumers making regular food and beverage purchases online in the last year, now is the time for retailers to focus on the profitability of the channel.

“Even though we're seeing growth in the online grocery market, there are still questions about whether it can be a profitable business model. Based on industry benchmarks, at least 75% of buyers need to become regular online shoppers. And retailers will need to figure out how to keep costs for fulfillment and shipping from taking such a big bite out of these low-margin products,” said Dr. Kurt Jetta, president and chief analytics officer of TABS Analytics, a division of Blacksmith Applications. “Given these factors, there's still much retailers must do to make money in e-commerce grocery in the near term. Walmart may be the exception, given their dominance in e-commerce grocery and strong sales in other online categories. So, we'll have to watch how that plays out over the next several years, to see if this market is viable.”

TABS Analytics’ Ninth Annual Food and Beverage Study was conducted in August 2021, surveying 1,000 adults (18+) to uncover how consumer buying patterns within these categories are shaped by the promotions offered. There were 15 consumables categories, which account for 20% of CPG retail dollars, analyzed: candy, carbonated beverages, cereal, cookies, crackers, frozen pizza, ice cream, juice (refrigerated), juice (shelf), frozen novelties, popcorn, salty snacks, sports drinks, water, and yogurt.

For more information, download the TABS Ninth Annual Food and Beverage Consumables Study webinar recording.


About TABS Analytics
TABS Analytics, a division of Blacksmith Applications of Boston, has been maximizing the analytics ROI for CPG firms since 1998. Founded by Dr. Kurt Jetta, TABS Analytics has evolved into an analytics powerhouse, delivering comprehensive data harmonization capabilities and intuitive analytics to hundreds of customers globally. TABS delivers analytics solutions to CPG manufacturers that integrate, harmonize, and analyze sales and marketing data. TABS also offers market research and omnichannel shopper insights services through its division, Decision Insight, a leader in uncovering shopper behaviors and motivations. Utilizing proprietary virtual platforms for brick and mortar and e-commerce, Decision Insight delivers effective strategies that win at retail. For more information, please visit

About Blacksmith Applications
Blacksmith Applications is a SaaS technology company offering trade management, optimization, and sales enablement services and software to CPG retail and foodservice organizations. Our customer list includes hundreds of organizations such as Tyson, Smucker's, Nestle, Unilever and KraftHeinz. The Blacksmith Applications team is comprised of professionals with decades of CPG experience and we stand apart from ordinary solutions not only in the capabilities of our platform but also in our industry knowledge. Our solution helps customers spend money better. Find out more at