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    U.S. Coffee Buying Trends Buck Overall Frugality

    Customers are still spending on upscale coffees despite thriftiness in other shopping occasions.

    NEW YORK -- Being seen by consumers as a relatively inexpensive luxury, upscale coffee sales continue to thrive even as many other industries suffer from consumer cutbacks on nonessential purchases, according to new market research by Packaged Facts.

    In its report, "Coffee and Ready-to-Drink Coffee in the U.S.: The Market and Opportunities in Retail and Foodservice, 6th Edition," Packaged Facts estimates total coffee market sales, including foodservice and retail, rose to $48 billion in 2009, with annual growth of 4 percent in 2008 and 2009.

    Sales in foodservice reached $42 billion, accounting for 87 percent of the coffee market, according to the report.
    "With the advent of the so-called 'Great Recession' in 2008, the central question facing the coffee market was whether a product that saw sales growth through upscaling could continue to progress in the face of a severe economic downturn," Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts, said in a statement. "By and large, the answer is yes. Even if marketers must now scuffle for every percentage point of sales growth they get."

    While the shift to upscale and specialty coffees diverges from overall trends of the economic downturn, they interact with each other as customers circumvent cheap ground coffee, and instead make tradeoffs to stay within budget while indulging in premium beverages, Packaged Facts reported.

    Regarding retailing and marketing, common coffee campaigns have revolved around the "premium" angle, while more downscale coffee venues introduce luxurious coffee beverages at comparatively thrifty prices, the report stated.

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