IRI Launches Tool to Track Price Changes

Alarice Rajagopal
Senior Editor
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IRI announces the launch of the IRI CPG Inflation Tracker on its free, online COVID-19 Data Dashboard. The new tool provides a standard metric for tracking weekly price-per-unit changes for consumer packaged goods compared to the year-ago period across departments, including fixed and random weight products, grocery aisles and retail formats. This resource allows CPG manufacturers and retailers to assess in real time the way pricing is evolving due to the supply chain and economic impacts of the pandemic and quickly adapt their strategies.

COVID-19 is severely impacting the supply chains of products throughout the store, resulting in large pricing fluctuations across categories and shopping channels week to week, according to Dr. Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey, president of Strategic Analytics for IRI.

Price per unit inflation can be attributed to four factors: increases in price per volume due to price increases, prices rising due to reduced price promotions, trading up to higher priced products and finally, purchasing of larger packages which cost more as consumers stay at home and consume more. For example, the price per unit of milk in multi-outlets during the past few weeks has increased 9%, made up of a roughly 5-6% increase in price per volume and a 3% higher volume per unit, compared to the same period last year. “The new inflation tracker helps CPG manufacturers and retailers react more quickly to volatile pricing trends, enabling them to ensure their products are priced appropriately and anticipate consumer reactions to further changes in price,” said Davey.

The IRI CPG Inflation Tracker is available on IRI’s website through the COVID-19 Data Dashboard and will be updated weekly with IRI’s point-of-sale data. Measured channels represented in the index include convenience and multi-outlets (food, drug, mass, club, dollar, military), including click-and-collect orders for all brick-and-mortar stores, as well as delivery services like Instacart. The tracker also includes insights into changes in price per unit by U.S. state and region for edible and nonedible products.

Key insights revealed by the IRI CPG Inflation Tracker in recent weeks include:

  • During the week of April 26, 2020, average prices per unit in edible departments were up 10% compared to the same week last year, and prices of nonedible aisles were up an average of 5%.
  • Pricing in the meat and bakery categories also experienced significant inflation compared to the year-ago period, with 11% and 9% increases, respectively. Meat prices accelerated by 10 percentage points compared to the previous week.
  • The price per unit of items in the frozen food, refrigerated food, beverages and beverage alcohol categories were all up more than 10% compared to the same week last year.
  • Paper products drove the significant increase in prices among nonedible departments, with a 20% price increase over prices the same week last year.