The food industry is comprised of companies that focus primarily on offering food and non-alcoholic beverage products. It includes grocery stores, food distribution companies, and other companies offering consumer staples that consumers either eat or drink. It does not include restaurant businesses, many of which are considered cyclical because consumers tend to dine out less during economic slumps. Companies in the food industry include The Kroger Co. (KR), Darling Ingredients Inc. (DAR), and B&G Foods Inc. (BGS).

Food stocks are best represented by the S&P Food & Beverage Select Industry Index, even though this index includes companies offering alcoholic beverages. The index has underperformed the broader market over the past 12 months, providing a total return of 21.1% compared to the Russell 1000's total return of 23.2%, as of December 4, 2020. All statistics in the tables below are as of December 7.

Here are the top 3 food stocks with the best value, the fastest growth, and the most momentum.

Best Value Food Stocks

These are the food stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Because profits can be returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks, a low P/E ratio shows you’re paying less for each dollar of profit generated.

Best Value Food Stocks

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing P/E Ratio
Ingles Markets Inc. (IMKTA) 37.68 0.8 5.4
Carrefour (CRRFY) 3.30 13.3 7.5
Albertsons Companies Inc. (ACI) 14.95 7.1 7.7

Source: YCharts

  • Ingles Markets Inc.: Ingles Markets is a regional supermarket chain. It offers products in each of the following categories: grocery, non-foods, perishables, and other. The company announced in the latter half of November that it will partner with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to administer the coming COVID-19 vaccine. Ingles pharmacies will receive allocations of the vaccine once it has been approved for use in the U.S.
  • Carrefour: Carrefour is a France-based retail distribution group that operates supermarkets, hypermarkets, cash and carry stores, and e-commerce websites. The company offers consumer goods, food products, household supplies, electronics, home appliances, and more. Carrefour announced in October that its subsidiary, So.bio, was acquiring Bioazur, a network of five stores specializing in the sale of organic products in south-western France. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
  • Albertsons Companies Inc.: Albertsons Companies is a grocery store company that operates food and drug retail stores. It offers grocery products, general merchandise, health and beauty care products, pharmacy, fuel, and other items and services. The company announced in the first part of November that it will receive an allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to administer in partnership with the HHS when the vaccines are approved.

Fastest Growing Food Stocks

These are the food stocks with the highest year-over-year (YOY) earnings per share (EPS) growth for the most recent quarter. Rising earnings show that a company’s business is growing and is generating more money that it can reinvest or return to shareholders.

Fastest Growing Food Stocks

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($B) EPS Growth (%)
JBS SA (JBSAY) 8.83 11.6 564.9
Maple Leaf Foods Inc. (MFI.TO) CA$27.31 CA$3.4 381.8
George Weston Ltd. (WN.TO) CA$97.23 CA$14.9 345.5

Source: YCharts

  • JBS SA: JBS SA is a Brazil-based meat processing company. It processes a range of meat products, including beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. The company also processes animal hides and is involved in leather tanning.
  • Maple Leaf Foods Inc.: Maple Leaf Foods is a Canada-based producer of food products, which include fresh and prepared meats, poultry, flours, pasta, seafood, and more. The company posted net earnings growth of 392.0% on sales growth of 6.2% in Q3 2020, which ended September 30, 2020. Despite added costs due to COVID-19, earnings were boosted by lower overall cost of goods sold and certain other expenses compared to the year-ago quarter.
  • George Weston Ltd.: George Weston is a Canada-based holding company that, through its subsidiaries, processes and distributes various food products.

Food Stocks with the Most Momentum

These are the food stocks that had the highest total return over the last 12 months.

Food Stocks with the Most Momentum

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
Celsius Holdings Inc. (CELH) 35.60 2.6 677.3
SunOpta Inc. (SOY.TO) CA$12.71 CA$1.1 259.0

National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ)

96.39 4.5 100.8
Russell 1000 N/A N/A 23.2
S&P Food & Beverage Select Industry Index N/A N/A 21.1

Source: YCharts

  • Celsius Holdings Inc.: Celsius is a holding company that develops, sells, and distributes calorie-burning beverages. It offers a variety of different beverage flavors and markets its beverages through multiple channels, including grocery, drug, convenience, and nutrition stores, as well as gyms.
  • SunOpta Inc.: SunOpta is a Canada-based company that owns and operates businesses in the natural and organic food markets. The company offers organic grains and seeds, raw material ingredients, plant-based beverages, broths, teas, nutritional beverages, frozen fruit, and more. SunOpta announced in the first half of November that it had agreed to sell its global ingredients segment to Amsterdam Commodities NV (ACOMO) for €330 million ($400.6 million). The transaction is expected to close by January 2021.
  • National Beverage Corp.: National Beverage is a holding company whose subsidiaries manufacture and distribute a full line of beverage products. Those products include multi-flavored and cola soft drinks, juice and juice products, flavored carbonated and spring water products, and more.

The comments, opinions and analyses expressed herein are for informational purposes only and should not be considered individual investment advice or recommendations to invest in any security or to adopt any investment strategy. While we believe the information provided herein is reliable, we do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. The views and strategies described on our content may not be suitable for all investors. Because market and economic conditions are subject to rapid change, all comments, opinions, and analyses contained within our content are rendered as of the date of the posting and may change without notice. The material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region, market, industry, investment, or strategy.