It might surprise you to discover that what isn't on the list of the Top 10 selling food categories surprises more than what is on it. For most of us, our primary protein sources of meat, poultry, seafood and cheese aren't there—though animal products such as refrigerated milk and fresh eggs hold the #1 and #7 sales positions.

Nor is produce among the Top 10, despite expansive displays within store entrances that establish a tone of fresh bounty and quality.

For all the attention paid to high-margin, high-service, showy perimeter departments, the latest Nielsen Strategic Planner data for U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores (excluding Wal-Mart) in the five-year period ended December 1, 2007 stands as testimony to center-store strength and consumers' classic buying of staples and favored packaged treats.

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