CHICAGORanch flavorings appear in products ranging from dressings and dips to snack foods of all types, and new data from the NPD Group reveals the classic flavor will likely continue to take the lead among these food favorites. Research shows ranch holds double the share of the second most-popular dressing flavor, blue cheese, and its formats continue to expand.
As Americans try to eat more healthfully and manage their weight, salads have hit the spotlight in recent years, playing an increasingly prominent role as an entree. However, ranch dressing serves as more than just a salad-topper, and ranch flavors are sure to come up more within the dips, dry mixes and snacks sectors.
“Salad dressing is a good example of how a staple item can extend beyond its traditional use," said Annie Roberts, vice president, NPD SupplyTrack. "Ranch dressing has become a mainstay not just for salads, but also for wings and other dishes as well. Understanding the salad dressing flavors that are growing or declining will provide distributors, manufacturers, and operators with the detail and insights needed to build a more profitable category."
Besides holding the No. 1 spot in popularity, ranch dressing sales are growing in an otherwise flat category, according to the NPD Group's report. Ranch holds double the share of dollars and units shipped to foodservice outlets compared to blue cheese dressing, which holds the No. 2 spot in the ready-to-use salad dressing category. Dollar sales volume of ranch flavor salad dressing shipped through broadline foodservice distributors to total foodservice outlets was up 3%, while total salad dressing dollar sales were flat during 2013 compared to the previous year. Ranch chipotle salad dressing, a blending of two popular flavors, netted double-digit gains in dollars and units shipped.
Other double-digit dressing flavor gains in terms of dollar volume shipped to eating and drinking establishments, lodging and other foodservice outlets, were honey Dijon, Asian peanut, and several vinaigrette flavors. Green Goddess dressing, a creamy flavor that has been around since the 1920s but recently became more available at foodservices, tripled in unit and dollar volumes shipped last year.
NPD's research also reveals eating and drinking establishments represent the largest dollar and unit share of ready-to-use salad dressing, and lodging follows in share. Flavored salad dressing mix, which holds a single-digit share of the category’s dollars and units shipped, increased by 4% and is primarily used at recreation foodservice outlets.