Kepak Foods targets convenience channel in bid to boost micro-snacking in the food-to-go sector

Microwaveable snack brand Rustlers, from Kepak Foods, last week revealed its plans to grow the UK’s £150m [Kepak estimates] micro snacking category by £50m over the next four years.

It says one of its key growth pillars will be a continued focus on doubling Rustlers’ sales through the convenience channel where its “Super 6” range already accounts for 59% [IRI Total Convenience] of all micro-snacking sales.

Kepak told Wholesale News at a trade media event last week that a “sustained, high profile investment” in Rustlers, including a £2.5m marketing spend over the next 12 months, would spearhead the drive. It will include TV, which breaks in November and a digital and outdoor campaign.

The above-the-line activity will be complemented by new packaging and NPD scheduled for spring 2017 and aimed at Rustlers’ core shopper audience of 18-21 year-olds.

“We’re in a very strong position because people who currently buy Rustlers rate the brand higher than loyalists of all other brands in our competitive set”, said Adrian Lawlor, Kepak Convenience Foods’ marketing and business development director.

“However, the challenge and major opportunity we and our retail partners have is to improve the perception of Rustlers amongst people who have yet to try the product by addressing the gap between perception and reality – and our marketing drive will focus on that.

“We’re building on a really positive platform with the £100m Rustlers brand currently growing significantly ahead of the category, with year-on-year sales up 18% [Kepak estimates].”

He stressed that the potential for growth was highlighted by the fact that two out of every five convenience stores still didn’t consistently stock Rustlers Quarter Pounder, the UK’s best-selling micro snack.

As part of its growth plan, Kepak has targeted a 5% increase in household penetration fro Rustlers, to 25%, and a 16% increase in household spend, to £21.

Kepak is planning to work with wholesale depots and their customers to stress the benefits of dual merchandising in the food-to-go chiller, as well as the increased profits that can be made by giving shoppers the chance to microwave Rustlers in-store.

“Food-to-go is forecast to increase by 10%in the next five years and is becoming increasingly important in the convenience channel, where it’s already worth almost £5bn. As more than half of all micro snacks are bought on a food to go mission, we’re going to work closely with c-store retailers to make the most of this key sales opportunity,” added Lawlor.

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