Priyanka Jethwa discovers that there are three boxes that wholesalers must tick with their snacking ranges if the are to tailor them for 2018.
The days when a rack of crisps in Ready Salted, Salt & Vinegar and Cheese & Onion flavours was enough to satisfy convenience store customers are long gone. Today’s consumers not only want a far greater choice of flavours, they want a far greater choice of snacks. Energy bars, popcorn and more are now available, while chillers have become mandatory, as stores offer fresh snacks to the on-the-go consumer. But the times are still changing, so what will consumers be looking for in 2018?
Quick and easy
Thomas Barkholt, marketing director at PepsiCo, says that the food-to-go sector is currently worth more than £17.4bn and is expected to grow even more over the next five years. So, when it comes to snacks, it is essential that the channel provides products in the correct format for the on-the-go consumer.
One food that is growing in popularity in this sub-category is cheese. Amy Fisher, shopper marketing controller at Dairy Crest, says that snacking on cheese between meals is already an ingrained habit, with 44% of adults claiming to have snacked on cheese between meals in the past year, and 47% saying they have bought cheese as a planned purchase for snacking.
But while most of this behaviour takes place at home, snacking on cheese in an on-the-go format is on the rise, supported by the fact that cheese also fits into the health agenda as a food that is naturally rich in calcium and vitamins.
And as consumers increasingly turn down traditional snacking products in favour of low-sugar and more natural alternatives, Judit Palfi, brand manager at Dairy Crest’s Cathedral City, adds that the company’s research suggests that a significant numbers of adults feel that there are no products suited to their needs for on-the-go snacking.
“Significantly, we know that around 90% of cheese snacking is by adults, yet the vast majority of cheese snacking ranges are for kids,” says Palfi.
Rebecca Vercoe, Mrs Crimble’s brand controller at Wessanen UK, says that to ensure your range suits all consumer types and occasions, you must remember to include a wide range of packaging options to meet shoppers’ needs, including single portions, smaller convenience packs and larger ‘top-up’ packs.
She advises: “Having more products from a known name with a firm reputation for upholding standards and producing top quality products will add more credibility to the range.”
Kellogg’s is also capitalising on the health kick with the launch of its new Special K Protein cereal bar, which will be available early next year.
The new bar will contain protein sourced from plant-based ingredients and is intended to appeal to a nation of ‘nutrition-conscious’ shoppers.
Special K snacks brand manager for UK and Ireland Sarah McFall, says: “Nut butters and products bearing the ‘protein’ label have appeared everywhere over the past few years and its evident these are more than just trends.”
PepsiCo’s Barkholt says that the company knows that lower-calorie products are also popular with shoppers, who are increasingly looking for ‘better for you’ snacks. To cater for this, PepsiCo has introduced new Snack-a-Jacks Minis, which will provide people with a product that delivers against this, as well as being convenient.
Wessanen’s Vercoe notes that as more consumers try to reduce their calorie intake, many are cutting back on the volume of snacks they consume. This presents a challenge – as well as an opportunity for brands, wholesalers and trade customers.
She adds: “The ‘little and often’ rule is increasingly being used in people’s snacking habits, with consumers eating less in one go but still maintaining their snacking frequency.”
Propercorn co-founder Cassandra Stavrou adds that popcorn continues to be the fastest-growing category in crisps, snacks and nuts, driven by the Big Night In occasion.
As a consequence, sharing is becoming increasingly important: 44% of adults planning quiet nights in look for sweet treats and formats suitable for sharing at home. “With Perfectly Sweet, we have reimagined the much-loved cinema classic, to create a flavour for those popcorn traditionalists who are looking for healthier alternatives to fuel their big night in,” says Stavrou.
It appears that if you want to stay ahead of the game and ensure their snacks range is tailored for 2018, they must tick three boxes: make sure they are selling on-the-go varieties; focus on supplying a range of free-from and healthy alternatives; and stock low-calorie options.
“Dairy Crest believes that a significant opportunity for retailers lies in continuing to drive the relevance of cheese for snacking. Cheese is naturally high in protein, a good source of calcium, and packed with vitamins and minerals. It provides energy and nutrients within relatively small quantities, and can make for a nutritious snack between meals for adults and kids alike.
“In the latest year, cheese snacks have gained 2.8% in value to become worth £59m. Dairy Crest anticipates that this growth will continue as fast-paced consumer lifestyles call for convenient, nutritious product solutions for planned and-on the-go snacking.”
Amy Fisher, shopper marketing controller, Dairy Crest
“More consumers are switching over to free-from snacks, as they look to cut back on or avoid certain food groups. The demand for free-from products has grown beyond those that suffer with a medical condition or intolerance to people who simply want a gluten-free diet. Keeping a few top-selling free-from products like Mrs Crimble’s Choc Macaroons in the range will ensure you meet the needs of these consumers and build category sales.
“Also, the key to keeping consumers buying snacks is to offer a range of products that gives them the opportunity to keep their portion sizes down.”
Rebecca Vercoe, Mrs Crimble’s brand controller, Wessanen UK
“Kellogg’s is set to launch a new Special K Protein cereal bar early next year. With stand-out packaging and protein content sourced from plant-based ingredients, such as nuts, seeds, grains and soy, the product will appeal to a nation of nutrition-conscious shoppers.
“We are proud to have produced a snack bar with highly sought-after ingredients that will appeal to a variety of diets and tastes – at an affordable price – to enhance our ‘better for you’ snacks offering. As a pre- or post-gym snack, or to keep shoppers fuelled throughout the day, the bars fit into impulse purchasing positioning.”
Sarah McFall, snacks brand manager for UK and Ireland, Special K
“Pringles are really popular at the moment, as are pricemarked packs of crisps in general. But, we would like to see our local Booker carry a wider range and have better availability of snacks, as they tend to only stock a limited amount. For example, they’ll only sell one flavour of Walkers Sensations.”
Meten Lakhani, St Mary’s Supermarket, Southampton
“We have always been a coffee and cakes establishment where we bake our own goods. In terms of snacks, we find that our carrot and chocolate fudge cake varieties have always been popular with our customers. We always have out a vegan, gluten-free and regular option to cater to all.”
Megan Stimpson, Marwood Coffeehouse & Bar, Brighton