Crave them or carve them: Pumpkins are big business this fall

November 1, 2017

Orange you glad it’s fall? For millions of Americans, the arrival of autumn has become associated with a flavor they crave: pumpkin spice.  And according to results of a poll released on October 2 by Nielsen, pumpkin-permeated products are still trending upward overall in 2017— but at a slower pace.

Nielsen reports that sales of products that include pumpkin as an ingredient totaled $1.14 billion for the year-ended Sept. 2— up 3.5% year-over-year and up 20% from two years ago.

From coffee to muffins, from soft-serve ice cream to cosmetics, from marinades to oral hygiene, there are seemingly endless applications for pumpkin—however, a select 10 product categories account for 87% of all pumpkin-flavored product sales across the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) landscape.

Among those, Nielsen Retail Measurement Services says, are pie filling (roughly $130 million in sales for the year ended July 29); cream ($50 million) dog food ($41million),  ground coffee ($28 million), baked bread ($22 million), ready-to-eat cereal ($21 million), baking mixes ($19 million), liquid coffee (($16 million), yogurt ($15 million) and fresh deserts ($8 million).

While pie filling is a stalwart in the category, interestingly enough, sales of dog food, cereal and liquid coffee all have contributed to the steady and continued growth of the pumpkin trend (sales increases of 115%, 183% and 596%, respectively, in the latest year).

By contrast, the ride might be slowing for pumpkin-themed craft beer, as sales have been sliding since eclipsing $115 million in the fall of 2014.However; the craft beer is a year-round favorite. Americans have spent more than $3 million on pumpkin-flavored craft beer in each of the summers between 2014 and 2017.

But consumers aren’t just looking for a hint of pumpkin flavor: Many are seeking the real deal. And in line with consumer desires to eat fresher, sales of fresh pumpkin are rising. According to Nielsen FreshFacts, fresh pumpkin sales hit $121 million for the year ended July 31, up 5.1% in dollar sales and 4.6% in volume sales from the previous year ($116 million).

Categories that include pumpkin (including pumpkin seeds) as an ingredient also are spiking. And of course, there is the annual surge of buying for jack-o-lanterns, which will hit the pumpkin patch in late October.

Research contact: Jordan_Rost@nielsen.com