Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Creamer

By David Sprinkle, Research Director, Packaged Facts (@packaged_facts)


If you haven’t paid attention to the sales success of coffee creamers, you are missing a sign of the times in the coffee market.

Packaged Facts estimates that U.S. retail sales of coffee creamer products will grow by $400 million between 2011 and 2016, to exceed $2.5 billion. This sales spurt in a niche product segment is not wholly surprising, given the current landscape of consumer food priorities and concerns.

Packaged Facts survey data from February 2016 show that new-generation, clean label refrigerated coffee creamers can — in addition to providing convenience and indulgence — meet many of the top product quality and nutritional concerns of food shoppers today: freshness (the top desired attribute, at 77%), natural ingredients, and low or reduced sugar.

Even the current priority on choosing foods with healthy fats and oils — which 47% of shoppers consider “especially important,” and which therefore outranks the search for high-protein or high-fiber foods — is at least partially addressed by creamers with natural dairy fat, rather than trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils.

Are any of the following especially important to you in choosing the foods you eat?
(percent of U.S. shoppers)

Attribute Percent
Fresh 77%
Low price 57
Natural 50
Healthy fats and oils 49
High protein 42
High fiber 41
Nothing artificial 39
Local 39
Low/reduced sugar 37

Source: Packaged Facts National Consumer Survey, February 2016

The larger point is that for many consumers, coffee isn’t simply a nutritionally neutral pick-me-up drink.

Especially for frequent drinkers in the coffee market, coffee beverages are subject to the same checklists and objectives as other foods ordered from the menu, or other packaged products plunked into the shopping cart.

Among coffee drinkers who cream their coffee, for example, one-fourth (24%) prioritize nutritious ingredients in choosing how to do so.  This broader agenda in choosing coffee beverages and add-ins has paved the way not only to coffee creamers based on non-dairy plant superfoods (such as coconut cream or almond milk), but also to ready-to-drink functional coffee products with supplements like protein or probiotics.

Factors in Choosing Among Cream/Creamer Options, 2016 (percent of coffee drinkers)

Most Important When Buying Creams/Creamers for Coffee Percent
Price 50%
Added flavor (vanilla, almond, hazelnut, mocha, etc.) 40
Real dairy product 38
Natural ingredients 34
Refrigerated 34
Brand 29
No added sugars 28
Nutritious ingredients 24
Convenient packaging 24
Switching between different flavor varieties 21
Plain, unflavored 20
No unhealthy fats 19
Vegetarian 8

Base: Coffee drinkers who use packaged creamers, dairy products, or plant milk.
Source: Packaged Facts April 2016 National Consumer Survey


Although the coffee market will and should always be primarily about coffee itself, marketers also need to think beyond the bean – because that’s what consumers are doing.

Get more information on Packaged Facts’ new reportRefrigerated Coffee Creamers: U.S Market Trends


David Sprinkle is the Research Director at Packaged Facts 


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