Substituting Summer Staples

Did you host or did you go to a BBQ this past Memorial Day weekend? My family and I did. We had the traditional hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, etc. (Last week’s blog post mentioned that 60% of Americans were planning to BBQ over the Memorial Day weekend.)

Well, according to research from The Nielsen Company, while these items will remain summer staples, a range of options are emerging.

Specifically, other possibilities include plant-based meat alternatives and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages.

Traditional Meat Vs. Plant-Based Alternatives (% sales growth, for the period ended March 23, 2019)

+2.6% — Traditional meat – Overall

+1.9% — Traditional meat – Hot Dogs

+13.5% — Plant-based meat alternatives

Ready-To-Drink Alcoholic Beverages (% sales growth, for the period ended April 20, 2019)

+247.3% — Hard kombucha

+193% — Hard seltzer

+77.5% — Canned wine

+41.9% — Wine-based cocktails

+40.7% — Sprits-based cocktails

+37.5% — Still/table Rose wine

+25.5% — Sparkling Rose wine

+0.1% — Beer

Have you tried, or are you planning to try, some of these alternative food offerings? Let us know by leaving a comment!

I hope you have a great weekend!

Best Regards,

Memorial Day Weekend Is Here

Along with honoring our fallen military heroes, Memorial Day represents the “unofficial” start of summer. Plenty of people commemorate the weekend by traveling to visit family and friends, or staying close to home and enjoying a BBQ.

How are you planning to spend your Memorial Day weekend? Let us know by leaving a comment.

According to, 60% of Americans plan to BBQ over the Memorial Day weekend. And with that, $1.5 billion will be spent on purchasing meat and seafood for Memorial Day.

Approximately 42.8 million Americans plan to travel over the Memorial Day weekend, which is a 3.8% increase from 2018, according to This could be the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes dating back to 2000, trailing only the total in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year.

Of those, according to,

  • 37.6 million of Memorial Day weekend travelers will drive to their destination (a 3.5% increase from 2018)
  • 3.25 million people are expected to travel by plane over Memorial Day weekend (a 4.8% increase over 2018)

Many people also look to shop during Memorial Day weekend. In fact, according to, 45.5% of Americans are “likely” to take advantage of Memorial Day deals, and will spend on average $486.

Of the consumers who planned to shop during Memorial Day weekend, 93% planned to visit “brick and mortar” stores or shop online, while 50% planned to shop solely in-store as opposed to online, according to AdWeek. For Memorial Day weekend shopping, the most popular types of stores are apparel, department, and electronics stores, according to AdWeek.

Remember To Scan!
We know you’ll most likely be very busy this Memorial Day weekend, but we just want to remind you to scan your purchases!

  • Scan all of your BBQ-related purchases, including charcoal, lighter fluid, condiments (mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc.), paper products, and even insect repellent and sunscreen.
  • Whether you find a great Memorial Day sale or not, record anything you purchase – apparel, food at a rest stop, etc.
  • Record your gas purchases using the Gas listing in the Barcode Reference Booklet if you use a handheld scanner, or if you have the NCPMobile App, the Non-Barcoded Items listing in the app.

    Use Gas Trip Only if you just purchased gas during a trip to the service station.

    Use Gas With Purchase when the gasoline is purchased along with other items from the gasoline station’s convenience store. Only enter the price paid for the fuel. For all other items with a barcode, please record them as usual.  

Note: In commemoration of Memorial Day, the Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday, May 27. The PSC will reopen on Tuesday, May 28.

Enjoy the long weekend, and remember those who fought and died for our country.

Best Regards,

Spotlight On Sustainability

Sustainability, according to the dictionary, is the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

It is also, according to The World Commission on Environment and Development, “A process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.”

Wow, is that a mouthful!

Basically, it means making sure we can sustain our resources to survive on this planet.

Whoa! Sorry, I didn’t mean to get so heavy.

But consumers are increasingly becoming invested in purchasing “sustainable” products, so it is an interesting topic to explore.

The Nielsen Company expects “sustainable-minded” U.S. shoppers to spend up to $150 billion on sustainable consumer packaged products by 2021.

In terms of food and beverage sales growth for the past year (year ended March 9, 2019), “sustainable” products have seen a large increase in sales:

  • Products with nothing artificial (free from artificial colors/flavors/preservatives/sweeteners/hormones and antibiotics) increased 2.7%
  • Clean label products (meets “no artificial” requirements) jumped 4.3%
  • Simple <10 products (meets “clean” requirements and has fewer than 10 ingredients, all of which are recognizable) increased 1.3%
  • Sustainable products (meets “simple” <10 requirements, plus has a sustainability claim) rose 3.7%
  • Meanwhile, conventional product sales only rose 0.7%

Packaging also matters, and, according to Nielsen, products using these sustainable packaging methods are on the rise:

  • Made from recycled packaging (with coffee, salty snacks, and pizza driving the growth)
  • Post recycled (cookies and crackers, etc.)
  • Recyclable (beverages sales are up)

Further, according to a Nielsen survey, 81% of respondents said that it is “extremely” or “very” important that companies implement programs to improve the environment.

In addition, 30% of respondents are willing to pay a premium for products that deliver on social responsibility claims.

So do you lean toward purchasing “sustainable” products? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Have a great and environmentally conscious weekend!

Best Regards,

Mother’s Day Facts

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I hope you take this occasion to celebrate all the moms in your life.

This year, we’re going to visit both sets of moms during the day, and then my husband and kids are taking me out to dinner.

What are you doing for Mother’s Day? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Here are some facts you may not know about Mother’s Day:

  • About 122 million phone calls are made to moms in America on Mother’s Day.
  • The National Retail Federation estimates that this year U.S. consumers will spend $25 billion celebrating Mother’s Day. Shoppers will spend an average of $196 on Mom.
  • One-fourth of the flower and plant purchases made for holidays occur at Mother’s Day, according to the Society of American Florists.
  • Carnations had a special meaning on Mother’s Day; a red carnation meant your mother was living, a white one meant she had passed.
  • The most popular gift for Mother’s Day is the greeting card. According to Hallmark, we give roughly 141 million Mother’s Day cards each year.
  • Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, in 2018 about 87 million adults made plans to go to a restaurant for Mother’s Day. About 54.7% of us take mom out to eat, spending a total $3.1 billion in the U.S.
  • According to the 2018 Mother’s Day Index, the various tasks moms perform at home would be worth $68,875 (up from $67,619 in 2017) a year in the professional world.
  • Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world. But on different days than the United States. Great Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Samoa, Georgia, Australia, and Thailand all have designated celebrations to honor their country’s mothers.
  • The vast majority of the world’s languages have a word for mother that starts with the letter M. This is because one of the first things a baby can vocalize is the ‘ma’ sound.

I hope you all have a great weekend and a very enjoyable Mother’s Day!

Best Regards,

Taking Good Care Of Your Pet’s Nutritional Needs

Any pet lovers out there? According to NCP data, approximately 48% of panel members own at least one dog, while about 35% own at least one cat.

Many panel members own several dogs and/or cats. So pet ownership is certainly a big thing for our panelists!

People are often very conscious about trying to eat healthier, and this also goes for what their pets eat, too. According to Nielsen data, consumers spent $33 million on pet food with “human-grade” products over the past year. Some of the top fresh food ingredients for pet food include carrots and blueberries.

In addition, other offerings like freeze-dried pet food has also become popular. In fact, dollar sales of air-drying/dehydrated full meal pet food have more than doubled over the past three years, growing from $23 million in 2015 to $53 million in 2018, according to Nielsen. Freeze- and air-dried/dehydrated pet foods are raw alternative options that are preserved through a drying method (either extracting moisture by vaporizing the ice of frozen meat at sub-zero temperatures or by using warm air for the drying process, respectively).

According to Nielsen, consumers are attracted to freeze- and air-dried pet foods because they’re usually free of added preservatives, and many offer enhanced benefits, such as improved digestion, shinier coat, smoother skin and a stronger immune system. But, this all comes with a hefty price tag: Pure freeze-dried pet food costs the average consumer approximately $33 per pound, while air-dried or dehydrated pet food costs approximately $10-$11 per pound, according to Nielsen.

Another area that’s growing is meal enhancers, since pet owners continue to want convenient ways to add nutritional and health benefits to their pet’s food. Meal enhancers already generate $93 million in sales, and they saw more than 25% growth year over year, according to Nielsen.

Who knew there were so many healthy ways to feed Fido or Fluffy?!

Don’t forget to record all of your pet food purchases! Manufacturers and retailers really want to know about who’s buying what type of pet food products.

Have a great weekend!

Best Regards,