Developments in the Snack Aisle

Value, convenience and ‘permissible indulgence’ are keeping snack sales strong
snacking data

Snacks are big business. And that big business is getting bigger—especially for convenience and dollar stores.

There’s a lot to consider when building your snack set: evolving flavor trends, new pressures from e-commerce providers (most of whom acknowledge snack varieties are a centerpiece of their selling portfolios) and the mercurial trends surrounding kids’ habits and tendencies.

Value and convenience channels drove the most sales growth this past year, with c-stores at a 4.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The industry was exceeded only by dollar stores (7.5%), and it was ahead of mass merchandisers (3.1%), according to Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader for Chicago-based IRI.

All other channels (grocery, club, internet and drug) had a combined CAGR of 6.9%, said Lyons Wyatt, speaking during a webinar on snacks and bakery trends that was co-hosted by SNAC (Snacking, Nutrition and Convenience) International.

Popcorn continues to propel category sales, spearheaded by its delivery of “permissible indulgence with added ­fiber,” Lyons Wyatt says. The subcategory had knockout 12.5% dollar growth this past year.

Extruded snacks such as vegetable chips are also on the rise due to the “permissibility” factor: They’re baked and not fried, nutritious and gluten-free, and available in a variety of flavor combinations, textures, shapes and sizes.

Kids undoubtedly hold sway over snacking decisions, and on-the-go snacking is a driver: Thirty-four percent of households with kids seek snacks to consume in the car or on the go compared to 15% of households with no kids. And 20% of households with kids want biodegradable packaging compared to 9% of households with no kids.