In total, revenues at 10 of the nation's biggest publicly traded packaged-food and beverage companies have fallen by about 15 percent over the last five years. Last year, only PepsiCo increased revenue, but only by 1 percent.
Experts said the woes of the biggest packaged-food firms run deep, wide, and sometimes in conflicting directions: Food has to be healthier and cleaner, but indulgence is just as important; the evermore important millennial generation remains a riddle; digital commerce has given small firms easier access to consumers, eroding the power of big brands; and the quality of store brands has improved, increasing pressure on the sales and profits of national brands.
Above all, consultants and analysts said, a lack of innovation that resonates with consumers has caused turmoil in a sector that can expect overall revenue to grow only a paltry 1 percent a year.
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