C-Store Pacesetters in 8 Snack Categories

salty snacks

Thanks to innovation with an accent on premium ingredients, salty snacks are pulling their weight across the wide-ranging snacking universe. Premium options and their associated higher price points helped spearhead dollar-sales performance of salty snacks at the expense of units in the past 12 months.

The total salty-snack category enjoyed a 6.88% dollar-sales increase across the U.S. convenience-store channel during the 52-week period ending March 25, 2018, according to Chicago-based data firm IRI. At the same time, unit sales decreased almost 1%.

IRI data reveals that the potato-chip segment of the consolidated category grew dollar sales 6.46% while units were essentially flat.

The top five consolidated potato chips brands were:

  1. Frito-Lay (9.48% dollar growth)
  2. Kellogg Co. (0.64% gain)
  3. Private label (down 6.44%)
  4. Herr Foods (0.19% gain)
  5. Utz Quality Foods (6.01% dollar loss)

Click through to view several pace-setting SKUs across eight salty-snack subsegments.

Potato chips

red rock deli

The top dollar-sales generators in potato chips were Lays Potato Chips, Ruffles (with dollar gains of 24.07%), Pringles, Lays Kettle Cooked (fell 7.61%) and private label.

Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division is bringing three varieties of Australian potato-chip line Red Rock Deli to U.S. shelves. “We saw an opportunity to bring this distinctly different snacking experience to the cities here in the U.S. that are always hungry for new culinary trends and elevated snacks,” said Stuart Beck, senior marketing manager for Frito-Lay North America. Two for the taking are Lime & Black Pepper and Himalayan Pink Salt.

Tortilla/tostada chips


The top five tortilla/tostada SKUs for the 52-week period ending late March were Doritos Tortilla, Barcel Takis Fuego (12.2% dollar gain), Doritos Sabritas Dinamita Tortilla (7.81% gain), Tostitos Tortilla and Tostitos Scoops Tortilla.

Horsham, Pa.-based Barcel USA is the snack division of Grupo Bimbo. It’s latest flavors of Takis chips include Fajita, Nitro, Xplosion and Guacamole.

'Other' salted snacks

In the “other” subcategory, the top SKUs for the year in dollar-share ranking were Funyuns, Chester's, General Mills Chex Mix, Munchies and Gardetto’s. But the top performers from a dollar-share-gain standpoint were Sunshine Cheez It (45.14% increase) and Sun Chips (22.73%).

Cheese snacks

cheetos paws

The top cheese-snack dollar-sales leader was Cheetos Cheese Snacks, and the top dollar-sale gainer was Cheetos Paws, which rolled out as a nod to brand icon Chester Cheetah. Paws had a firm grip on the cheese-snack segment, gaining a whopping 861.88% in dollar sales from like-period 2017.

Corn snacks

garden of eatin blue corn chips

While Fritos brand corn snacks paced the segment with its dollar-sales performance, private-label varieties flashed the most dramatic dollar-share-growth profile at 306%, while assuming the back end of the top 20.

Driving the “premiumization” of the corn-snack segment was Garden of Eatin’ Organic Corn Chips, available in BBQ Black Bean Yellow Corn, Sea Salt Yellow Corn and Sea Salt Blue Corn.


dots pretzels

Top pretzel SKU Combos actually saw dollar sales drop from like-period 2017 by 1%, while the fastest-growing pretzel performer in the top 10 was grass-roots brand Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels. It’s dollar sales leapt 74.57%.

Velva, N.D.-based Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels is a family-owned business and a member of the Pride of Dakota Brand, with bakeries in North Dakota, Arizona and Kansas.

Ready-to-eat popcorn

skinny pop

Smartfood took the top spot in the popcorn segment for the 52-week period ending late March 2018, while SkinnyPop flashed the most significant gain at 44.30%, according to IRI data.

Pork rinds

grandpa johns

In the top 20 pork-rind SKUs, the varieties to watch from a dollar-gain standpoint included brands on the lower half of the list: Private label (33% gain), Pepe’s (41.48%), Dabo’s (32.31%) and Grandpa Johns (33.74).

The Grandpa Johns brand claims to be “just like your grandparents used to make when nothing was wasted on the pig but the squeal. … The brand invokes the spirit of Midwest farm living with its focus on traditional farm-made cracklins.”