Food to go trend increases demand for single packs in crisps & snacks

With the trend for food to go reportedly set to keep growing, single packs in particular will play an important role for wholesalers and their customers, suppliers say.

“The food to go market is expected to grow to £41bn by 2020 and the meal deal will be key in this,” says Matt Collins, trading director for convenience, wholesale, discounters and foodservice at KP. “46% of crisps, snacks and nuts are now bought within a meal deal, so a strong range offering your customer variety is vital.”

“Consumer demand for food to go has exploded over the past two years and is still in rapid growth,” agrees Hayley Murgett, Kallø marketing controller at Wessanen UK. “Single-format products and smaller case sizes are rapidly being developed to meet this need.”

This is beneficial to wholesalers, she adds, as it brings lower case costs and has less impact on shelf space. “One of the things we focused on with the recent launch of our Pop-Crisps is formats to ensure that we can suit our customers across different channels,” she says.

“For example, we have just introduced smaller case sizes of 12s as we know space for the wholesale end-user is at a premium.”

The message is clear: to grow volumes – and encourage sales for both your retail and foodservice customers – stock up on single formats of the bestselling lines.

Health is still on the up

But growing sales of crisps and snacks is not only down to the right formats. Staying on top of the biggest trends in the sector is important, too – and healthy bites are one of them.

The numbers tell the story, suppliers say. “Snacking habits are changing and 54% of snackers are interested in healthier versions of their favourite snacks, according to Mintel data,” says Kallø’s Murgett. “Consumers are starting to make more considered choices about food and they eat more positively throughout the day.”

“Traditional savoury snacks, such as potato-based crisps, declined in 2017, as consumers increasingly looked for higher-quality, ‘healthful’ propositions,” says Craig Hughes, UK general director of Green Park Snacks, which owns chickpea snack brand Hippeas.

This trend has spanned the past three years, he adds, while trends such as free-from and protein featured in last year’s top 10 trends according to Nielsen.

While sales of potato-based snacks are losing ground, the opposite is true of healthier bites, says Philly Sweetnam, head of out of home sales at Popchips UK: “Better for you products have grown by 35% since 2014, whilst the rest of the category has been fairly flat, growing at just 0.8% over the same period.”

Portion size is also set to become a key consideration for suppliers, adds Sweetnam: “Public Health England has recently switched its focus to calories, which firmly puts snacks under increasing scrutiny when it comes to health.”

To help your customers meet the demand for healthy, portion-controlled bites, it is therefore vital to stock up on healthier options – including those from the biggest suppliers, such as PepsiCo.

“Walkers is the number-one savoury snacking brand: 16 of the top 20 single-serve crisps and snacks are PepsiCo products,” says Pierre Jackson, category insights controller at PepsiCo.

“Our portfolio offers genuine choice and we continue to bring new, healthier options to the market with products like Sunbites Nuts. The growth of healthier snacks shows that shoppers are increasingly looking for ‘better for you’ products that they can enjoy, without sacrificing great taste.”

Keep it fresh

New and interesting products are always popular in snacking. “We know that new products help to drive the savoury snacks category, as people are always looking for something different,” says Jackson.

For wholesalers, this marks an opportunity to stay relevant to your customers, while helping them grow sales.

“Consumers are always looking for new products to snack on and with a vast array of products entering the market, it is an exciting time to tailor your range to your consumer market with product innovation,” says Kallø’s Murgett.

When it comes to trying out new products, the popularity of both premium snacks and world bites should inform your range.

“One of the main consumer trends driving growth in the snacking sector is the increasing demand for new global tastes, textures and flavours, especially Indian – the fastest growing taste,” says Debbie King, director of commercial sales and marketing at Cofresh Snack Foods.

While the total savoury snacks market grew 1% last year, the world snacks sector grew 22.4%, she says – figures that open up huge opportunities for wholesalers. “Cofresh has seen a 40% growth in its core range of Asian mixes in the past 12 months,” King adds.

Premium snacks are also on the up, says Katy Hamblin, marketing manager at Pipers Crisps, as consumers are increasingly concerned with quality.

“Customers are becoming far more discerning in their choice of food and drink,” she says. “For them, it is not about the price – much more important is the quality of what they consume.”

This is good news for wholesalers, she concludes, as it creates an opportunity to increase your customers’ average spend.

Driving sales in-depot

Once your range ticks all the boxes – health, pack size, new products and premium – it is time to focus on your merchandising and display.

“There are many products, pack sizes and variants, which can be confusing,” says King. “Strong promotions and high-profile displays will help draw attention to specific products and encourage sales.”

Make sure the top-selling products are in the right locations and use off-shelf displays, rack-end promotions or displays at the front of your depot, she adds.

“Enticing displays that include details of promotions are important for snacks,” says Green Park Snacks’ Hughes. “Educational point-of-sale material, encouraging displays and multiple points of purchase will help wholesalers to be successful.”

Letting your customers know how best to increase sales is important, too, he adds. “Retailers can maximise in-store snacking opportunities, for example, by including them in meal or link deals and placing them by the tills or under fridges.”

“Helping wholesalers understand the target market is also key to sales,” concludes Cofresh’s King. “Cofresh supports wholesalers by suggesting recommended ranges by different outlet types, so they can offer the right products to that consumer base.”



“Snacks are big business for my store and shoppers are always looking for a reason to buy them. Healthy products and those that clearly show shoppers they contain protein or fruit are selling well.

“My symbol group is great at offering a range of snacks, including healthier options.”
Julian Taylor-Green, Spar Lindford, Hampshire

Richard Inglis

“What works for us is offering our customers unusual snacks that they cannot buy anywhere else. We stock popular American snacks that are not stocked in most places, and people will travel some distance to our stores to get them.

“I would like to see more unusual products on offer via wholesalers.”
Richard Inglis, Parkview Retail, Southampton


“We are seeing the trend for premium goods reflected in popular snacks in our café. For example, freshly baked scones and avocado on toast are far more popular than crisps or nuts. People will happily pay more for quality.

“It is hard to get really good quality ingredients from wholesalers – we would like to see more.”
Diane Odling-Smee, Baskervilles Tea Shop, North London


“We make all our meals and snacks ourselves with high-quality local produce – we have a mix of local customers and tourists, and our food is what makes us stand out. People are looking for better-quality snacks, so our most popular are potato wedges, sweet potato fries and cheeses.”
Ashley McCarthy, Ye Old Sun Inn, Colton, Yorkshire


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