While singles remain the biggest segment of crisps and snacks, sales are down. So what are suppliers doing to rejuvenate singles’ popularity and how can wholesalers boost sales of other formats, too?
In this article, we reveal the latest market statistics, profile the newest products and campaigns, and share suppliers’ tips for maximising the category in-depot.
There is no doubt that changes in eating habits have led to a marked increase in snacking in recent years. “With 90% household penetration, more than £2.1bn is spent on savoury snacks in the UK annually,” comments Matthew Mill, senior brand manager at Kraft Heinz. “As the trend continues, wholesalers need to think about stocking a variety of savoury snacks to help retailers cater for their customers.”
The sharing segment has become increasingly important thanks to the popularity of the Big Night In, according to Andy Verney, head of impulse at Kettle Foods.
“Within convenience, sharing now represents 37% of total value sales and is the number-one growth sector in snacking, up 8.8% year on year,” he says.
He adds: “The Kettle Chips sharing bag is growing at 16.4% and is one of the key brands driving the segment.”
PepsiCo’s category insights controller Pierre Jackson also recognises this trend. “Sharing packs accelerated in impulse in the 12 months to December (up 9.4%), making up almost 25% of all consumption occasions,” he points out.
Singles remain the biggest segment of crisps and snacks at 49%, but sales are down by 8.5%. Eight of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 singles are PepsiCo brands, with its Walkers Cheese & Onion 32.5g the top seller in the wholesale channel.
Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International, suggests the key to keeping sales of all formats strong is recognising the importance of healthier snacks. “Crisps, the former heartland of savoury snacks, saw a decline of 25% in occasions between 2005 and 2015, and are currently falling by 5.2% in value due to consumers moving into bagged snacks that are baked and seen as more wholesome,” she says. “As a result, savoury snacks and popcorn are growing at 20% and 25.8% respectively.”
The big potatoes
Suppliers have developed a number of new products and campaigns in an effort to boost sales of both single and sharing packs of crisps.
PepsiCo has launched two new flavours of its ridged crisps brand Walkers Max: Salt & Malt Vinegar and limited-edition BBQ Pulled Pork. Both are now available to the impulse trade via wholesalers. “Walkers Max single serve is already performing incredibly well in impulse, growing significantly at 42%,” says Pierre Jackson. “Due to the popularity of the brand, the two new flavours will provide wholesalers with even more opportunities to grow sales.”
Meanwhile, KP Snacks has given McCoys, the UK’s biggest-selling ridged crisps brand, a new lease of life by creating the Chips range, touted as ‘crinkle-cut chips for a full-on chip-shop experience’. “Available now in 70g £1 pricemarked packs and in two flavours, Salt & Vinegar and Curry, the product uses new technology to deliver a crunchy outside and fluffy inside, so it tastes just like the real thing,” says Matt Collins, sales director for convenience, wholesale, discounters and foodservice.
PepsiCo’s investment in the sharing segment includes new resealable 175g packs of Walkers, which are supported by an eight-week TV campaign. “At the end of January, we also began a 12-week ‘Snap & Share’ promotion, which features on the new resealable packs as well as Walkers Tear ’n’ Share and Grab Bags,” says Jackson. “Customers are encouraged to take and share selfies to win prizes, including tickets for UEFA Champions League (UCL) football matches, PS4 consoles and Pro Evolution Soccer games, as well as official UCL Adidas footballs.”
Away from crisps, innovation abounds, with all kinds of products tapping into growth areas in the category. Investment in healthier snacks is notable, with recent launches including Ritz Bakefuls from Mondelez. Nash says: “These are crispy cracker bites with 30% less fat than standard crisps. Both Ritz Bakefuls and Ritz Crisp & Thin have been highly incremental to the category – the latter became the number-one contributor to growth in crisps and snacks and has had one of the highest repeat rates of all product launches in the category in the past five years, reaching 31.8%. Ritz’s successes are a clear indication of the growing significance of savoury and the demand for ‘better for you’ snack options.”
Also tapping into the trend for healthier snacks is Ten Acre popcorn. Tony Goodman, CEO of Ten Acre Snacks, comments: “Popcorn continues to rise in the popularity stakes, thanks to its lower calorie/high-fibre credentials and the innovation in flavours that is exciting shoppers. All Ten Acre snacks are also free from gluten, dairy, MSG and GMO, as well as being vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher-certified. They are a one-stop solution for wholesalers looking to tick all these boxes.”
On-the-go is another key consideration for suppliers. “To meet the snacking needs of busy customers, Kraft Heinz relaunched Planters last summer, the number-one nut brand in the US,” says Mill. “The new Planters range is available in a variety of pack formats and flavours, including resealable sharing bags, as well as handy single bags.”
Sue Warren, strategic development director at Wellaby’s, which makes Simple Bakes, says the craze for snacking on the go has created a “grazing culture”. “Consumers expect their snacks to contribute more towards their dietary needs today,” she adds. “Whether that is linked to weight loss, health or allergens, empty calories are out: it’s satisfaction and filling power that makes the grade.”
What measures are suppliers taking to support wholesalers with crisps and snacks, and what advice can they offer to make stocking and displaying the category as easy as possible?
“The category is highly proliferated, with lots of products, formats and variants, and for a retailer or caterer this can be confusing,” says Collins at KP Snacks. “A very simple way to avoid confusion is to treat the depot and the retail store the same. Follow the same merchandising principles to deliver consistency and ease of shop.
“In line with the industry move to reduce case sizes over the past few years, we have been proactively changing our cases to smaller formats,” adds Collins. “This means we can facilitate cheaper wholesale prices, save space in-store and offer fresher products.”
Kettle Foods’ Verney points out that across crisps and snacks sold in impulse, particularly in independents, there is a shift towards smaller pack sizes and pricemarked packs.
“In fact, 82% of all sharing snacks sold in independents are 132g or less, and 81% are pricemarked,” he says. “Kettle Chips now offers pricemarked packs in both sharing and single-serve formats. Available to cash & carry and wholesalers, they are ideal for targeting outlets in more price-sensitive areas or where the rate of sale of premium products is lower.”
PepsiCo’s Jackson says that while the average independent sells 273 packs of savoury snacks every week on average, it is important for retailers to stock the right range, as a slower-selling line can take up to seven times longer to sell through than a fast-selling core-range line. “Wholesalers can help retailers make informed decisions through the deployment of signage and merchandising to highlight the bestsellers,” he adds.