The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry performed "significantly better" than the rest of the market in 2008, as measured by the S&P and Dow Jones Industrial Averages -- beating both by at least 10 points, according to a new study developed and released by theGrocery Manufacturers Association andPricewaterhouseCoopers LLC (PwC). Officials added that CPG manufacturer median sales grew approximately 10 percent last year, down just slightly from 2007 median sales figures.

The GMA-PwC study is titled, "2009 Financial Performance Report: Focusing on Today, Envisioning Tomorrow." Its key findings included news that:

-- the food sector experienced sales growth of 10.2 percent, evidence that consumers are increasingly cooking and eating at hom. The beverage sector followed with 9.9 percent sales growth.

-- the food sector was the performance leader among the major CPG sectors in 2008 median shareholder returns.

"There are lessons to be learned from the CPG top performers, which are well positioned to emerge from this recession stronger than ever before, as they continue to invest in their core brands, take advantage of scale to produce healthy margins and manage down debt," said John Maxwell, PwC consumer packaged goods and retail industry leader.