Convenience packs boost sugar sales

For the casual baker, premeasured packets of brown sugar proved to be a convenience they were willing to pay a premium for over the holiday baking season.

Premeasured packets of dark and light brown sugar gave a holiday boost to Imperial and Dixie Crystals retail volume. Source: Imperial Sugar Co.

Sugarland, TX-based Imperial Sugar Co. introduced Redi-Measure pouches in November 2008, too late to get a fair reading in the critical fourth-quarter period when 40 percent of brown sugar sales get rung up, according to Hyuna Lee, Imperial brand manager. The numbers for quarter-cup premeasured pouches in 2009 were promising, however: in the San Antonio market, Red-Measure grabbed 22 percent of the market, while the company’s Dixie Crystals brand staked a 9.2 percent share in the Southeast.

“Anything new in a mature category is exciting,” says Lee, adding, “This is for people who aren’t heavy bakers and are looking for convenience.” Brown sugar typically is sold in 1 and 2 lb. polybags. After the bag is opened, moisture is lost and the contents begin to cling and clump. Experienced bakers know that putting a piece of bread into the bag will replenish the moisture, she explains. Alternatively, 30 seconds in a microwave will break up the clumps. The casual cookie maker may be unaware of these tricks, and the quarter-cup pouches represent “the lowest common denominator” in most recipes, according to Lee.

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