Blog: Dean BestHershey's unusual move to share sales data

Dean Best | 20 September 2016

Hershey made an unusual announcement today (20 September), sharing its own sales data for the last four weeks to assuage any possible investor concern over figures released by Nielsen.

The Reese's maker issued retail takeaway (which included the candy, mint, gum, salty snacks, snack bars, meat snacks and grocery categories) and market share results for the four-week period to 10 September.

It said its "internal proprietary custom database" showed its retail takeaway increased "about 1.9%" when looking at sales for the "expanded all outlet combined plus convenience store channels". The result led to a market share increase of 0.2 points.

"Earlier today, Nielsen provided CPG manufacturers and subscribers with category growth, retail takeaway and market share data for the same period. However, Nielsen has also communicated to its subscribers and customers that certain data, including candy, mint and gum (CMG) information, could be understated due to an information tracking issue. Therefore, The Hershey Company believes its internal proprietary custom database is a more accurate reflection of its marketplace performance for this period," the company said.

just-food contacted Hershey to ask what data Nielsen had issued but had not received a reply at the time of writing.

In a statement to just-food, Nielsen said: "Regarding The Hershey Company's retail takeaway and market share results announced on September 20, the tracking issue referenced stemmed from reported retail point-of-sale data provided by one of our retail cooperators. These data discrepancies were identified in two categories: candy and tobacco for data captured on August 13, 2016 through September 10, 2016. Nielsen is working closely with this retail cooperator to expedite a resolution and will send out corrected data as soon as it is available."

Hershey's sales performance in the US is likely being closely watched, not least in the run-up to the key Hallowe'en sales period. In July, Hershey lowered its full-year sales forecast for the second time this year. It cited macroeconomic conditions in China and a weaker outlook for the candy, mint and gum category in the US.

At the time, chairman and CEO J.P. Bilbrey, looking specifically at the candy, mint and gum category in the US, said the market had not picked up to the extent that Hershey was expecting. "Non-seasonal candy, mint and gum category growth progressed in the second quarter; however, given the amount of activity in the marketplace, category growth was less than what we anticipated. We've yet to experience consistent broad-based marketplace gains that are reflective of the attractive CMG category and Hershey's competitive advantages."

Bilbrey said Hershey will continue to work to revive the CMG category in the US. "In the coming quarters, we will begin to share the results of the work being performed that should benefit the company in the near and long term. Over the remainder of 2016, our CMG in-store merchandising, new products and consumer investment will be strong and should result in a sequential improvement in retail takeaway performance," he said.

Sectors: Confectionery

Companies: Hershey

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