Snacking has become a way of life

According to Mintel, snacking has become an integral part of modern eating habits, and is now recognised as one of the most lucrative areas of the global food industry. Formal dining and regulated meal patterns have a diminished importance in the 21st Century, and long gone is the notion that it is not right to eat between meals.

So this provides a target rich environment for the snacks brands.

Mintel says Walkers Snacks Foods has a share of 58% in the UK crisps and snacks market worth pound;1.3bn. Last year Pepsico spent pound;20m on the re-launch of its reformulated Walkers crisps brand so that it contains 70% less saturated fat and salt was reduced to 0.5g.

It has now expanded on this by re-launching its snacks brands, Quavers, Monster Munch, Walkers Squares and French Fries. The range has an 80% reduction in saturated fat and at least a 25% reduction in salt. The snacks are now made with sunseed oil which is naturally low in saturated fat and they contain less than 1g of saturated fat per bag.

Jon Goldstone, vice president of Walkers marketing, says: “We had a fantastic response to the changes we made to Walkers crisps last year and saw the category grow by 2%. As a segment of that category, snacks has been in decline but we anticipate that these developments in our range are set to put it back into growth and therefore further boost the overall category performance.

“Sunseed oil is one of the healthiest oils there is and consumer awareness is high. The changes we have made to our snacks range will be welcomed by mums who we know are looking for more choice and clearer health credentials while at the same time looking for snacking options that taste good.”

Andy Thompson, wholesale director of Pepsico, says: “The UK has the most sophisticated third party distribution in the world.”

He adds that wholesalers and cash and carries are extremely important to Pepsico and that an important issue is the stocking of the core ranges

Paul Lettice, trade communications manager of Procter Gamble, says: “P G is constantly trying to invigorate the market and develop ways for retailers to build their business. The biggest challenges in the snacks market are maximising floor and shelf space as well as effective ranging. Making improvements can be fast and immediate. Just removing slow selling SKUs from shelves will impact profitability immediately.”

According to P G 42 packs of crisps and snacks are purchased every second in the UK and 95% of houses purchase crisps and snacks.

Lettice advises: “Group together related Pringles pack formats such as multi packs, to make selection quicker and easier. Keep shelves well stocked with top regular Pringles flavours – Pringles Original, Pringles Sour Cream Onion and Pringles Salt Vinegar, Pringles Dippers Dips and Mini Pringles.”

Last year P G reformatted Pringles to give them a lighter texture making it 25% crunchier and removed 30% of the saturated fat from each crisp. Pringles has also moved into the premium range with the launch of Pringles Gourmet in Thai Sweet Chilli Lemongrass, Sea Salt Black Pepper, Tiger Prawn with Crushed Garlic and Flame Grilled Steak Caramelised Onion.

P G has added two new flavours to its Mini Pringles range, Texas BBQ Sauce and Cheese Onion. Lettice says: “Single serve options account for a third of the snacks and crisps convenience market, which is the equivalent to pound;488m value sales during the past 12 months. By extending the flavour portfolio of our Pringles on-the-go range, re-launching the packaging and offering new POS we are supporting retailers in their efforts to leverage this thriving market to the maximum.”

Kettle Foods has developed a new on-pack dietary labelling scheme in response to government initiatives to combat obesity. The panel on the Kettle Chips bags combines both the FSA traffic lights and a GDA scheme. It provides the total calories, sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt per 40g serving, and the percentage each represents of the guideline daily amount. It also has colour coded border corresponding to the FSA guidelines for the traffic light system.

Kettle Chips has also announced the latest addition to its range, Mexican Limes with a Hint of Chilli. This flavour will be the seasonal edition for the summer as voted for by visitors to the Kettle Chips website. Norman Comfort, brand manager of Kettle Foods, says: “The seasonal editions play a key role in delivering flavour innovation in the category and generating consumer excitement. It will give a seasonal boost to our strong core range which has seen a 16% increase in the number of consumers purchasing Kettle Chips in the last 12 months.”

Justin Burbage, head of impulse of Kettle Foods, says that consumers are after indulgence and they also want natural ingredients and Kettle can deliver on both these points. He suggests that wholesalers should merchandise premium stock together to make it easier for consumers to find them, so the 40g and 150g bags should be together in the same area.

Mintel says United Biscuits owns some of the most successful snack brands in the UK and is number two in the UK branded savoury snacks and crisps market.

Jessica Wylie, trade PR and communications manager at United Biscuits UK, says: “UBUK recognises that the wholesale channel is a vital sector for the company as it accounts for 51% of UBUK’s total impulse sales. UBUK works closely with wholesalers to ensure they are provided with the best support and category expertise to drive profitable sales within their business.”

UBUK has launched a healthier offering in the snacks sharing market in the shape of 150g Crinkly Crisps sharing bags. The sharing bags come in three flavours: Sea Salt Cracked Black Pepper, Thai Sweet Chilli Lime and Tomato, Basil Mozarella.

The Go Ahead range also has a new addition, Best Ever Crispy Bites in Sour Cream Chive flavour which is replacing Cheese Pickle.

This month UBUK introduced a seasonal limited edition, McCoy’s Jackets. Available in Sour Cream Chive, Melted Cheese Bacon and Chilli Beef, McCoy’s Jackets has its skin left on for a bigger crunch.

McCoy’s Specials range of Tortillas was launched last year and achieved pound;7.7m in retail sales value by the end of the year.

Mark Sugden, customer marketing director of UBUK, says: “Our McCoy’s range of savoury snacks continues to go from strength to strength, with a unique positioning in the market as the ‘real bloke’s snack brand’. The latest additions to the range will help drive further incremental growth to the category and profits for retailers.”

Bounce Snack Foods has introduced Bounce Balls into the UK healthy snacking category. Bounce Balls are made from 100% natural ingredients and offer a convenient way for health conscious consumers to eat nutrition on the go. They are designed to keep hunger at bay and boost stamina, with a gradual energy release, but are low in calories – ranging from just 169 to 209 per ball.

Matthew Giles, managing director of Bounce Snack Foods UK, says: “At present the Balls are available from health food wholesalers across the UK. According to the feedback from wholesalers, the Balls are selling well and have achieved unprecedented growth in an extremely short space of time. In one wholesaler, Bounce Balls are outstripping Green Black’s chocolate in terms of both value and volume.”

Bounce is available in five varieties: Premium Protein Balls, Premium Almond Balls, Cashew Pecan Balls, Fudgie Walnut Balls, and Bounce Spirulina Ginseng. They are suitable for people on vegan, wheat-free, dairy-free, low-fat or low-cholesterol diets. The Cashew Pecan Ball provides a rich source of fibre, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and the antioxidant selenium and the Fudgie Walnut Ball is gluten-free and a natural source of omega 3 fatty acids and fibre.

The Bounce Balls are packaged in tubs containing 40 or 70 balls, which can be positioned at the till to encourage impulse purchases.

He adds: “Healthy snacks are becoming more sophisticated – it is no longer enough for a product to be quite low in fat and sugar with a few vitamins thrown in for good measure. Consumers are looking for products with clearer propositions that give specific and proven benefits. As weight management moves into the mainstream, there is massive interest in products with a so called ‘satiating effect’. It’s a trend that has already been clocked by market research analysts like Euromonitor International, which forecasts that ‘satiety’ could have the legs to surpass both the GI and low-carb phenomena.”

Ryvita has recently launched two new products, Ryvita Muesli Crunch and a new Cherry variant, to the Ryvita Goodness Bar range. It has also continued to use Fern Britton as the face of Ryvita in the TV advertising.

Anna Cornelius, customer market manager of Ryvita, says: “The wholesale channel is extremely important to Ryvita, as it is is a vital route to market for the independent trade. We are working to increase the provision of healthy snacks to this channel and there is further opportunity for wholesalers to educate retailers in the importance of healthier snacking, which would drive further sales.”

According to Sun Valley, the total crisps, nuts and snacks category has grown in value by some 3.3% in the last year. Nut growth alone is up by 16% in the last three years, nuts are up to pound;241m which is a 15.4% growth year on year.

Sun Valley’s You Are What You Eat range of nuts fruits and seeds was launched in June 2005 and the 40g snack pack was launched in 2006.

Jonathan Barr, marketing manager of Sun Valley, says: “We have been delighted with the success of the You Are What You Eat range in 2006. Listings have been fantastic and include most of the major multiples. These new packs sizes open up the market to us even more and we have interest from convenience outlets, forecourts and wholesale.”

Sun Valley also offers Pretz, a range of low fat pretzels in Worcester Sauce flavour and Sour Cream Onion flavour. They have 3.5g fat per pack and 0.35g of saturated fat, they are low in calories and have low sodium levels.

Barr comments that wholesalers are starting to offer customers a larger choice of snacks, maintaining strong relationships with traditional while developing their range of healthier alternatives. He adds that positioning of this extended offering is also important – the snacks offering is best grouped simply by traditional snacks and healthier categories – a straight forward offering that will be easy for customers to manoeuvre and wholesalers to manage.

Hayley Roth, marketing controller of Trigon Snacks, says: “Ambient snacks grew last year only 1.5% in total largely driven by the continued growth of nuts at 8% and small growth of 1.9% in potato crisps. The main issue affecting NPD is the government drive to reduce salt in all products. The reduction of salt in snacks is proven to reduce consumer preference. Nuts are unique in this area as they are perceived as healthier snacks as they deliver important nutrients with a wide range of minerals and vitamins and important healthy monounsaturated fats.”

Trigon’s pub snacks range Big D launched a calendar in the new year featuring the Big D Babe Malene. Roth says: “Since Malene came on board last year, the brand has gone from strength to strength and we’ve had great feedback on the new Malene nut cards. The calendar contains a collection of shots that will remind people of the brand every day of the year.”

She adds: “The key to selling products is using promotional mechanisms to drive competitiveness with multiple retailers. It is also vital to ensure the promotional tools used by manufacturers are passed onto the independent retailers so they can be perceived as good value. Cash and carry is more of a traditional retail situation where clear merchandising and promotional signage are important. They should be looking to extend the range of nut and fruit products that they stock to capitalise on the growth of the popularity of nuts as a healthier snack option.”

According to Mintel fruit is an important on-the-go snack for more affluent and older consumers. In fact very few people manage to eat the five portions of fruit and veg a day recommended by nutrition experts as an essential part of a healthy balanced diet and suppliers are beginning to move to offer convenient ways to fill the gap.

Jamie Robinson, commercial director of Ocean Spray International Services, says: “The dried fruit market is growing, particularly from a fresh focus on healthy snacking and new products entering this sector to fulfil consumer needs. We foresee a vibrant snacking category growing as retail outlets increasingly offer both traditional and fruit snacks to consumers, especially as impulse buys.” The Ocean Spray range consists of Dried Cranberries, Dried Cranberries with Raisins, Dried Cranberries with Mixed Nuts and Seeds and Dried Cranberries with Tropical Fruits.

Robinson says: “Dried fruit has traditionally been located in the home baking aisle, however in recent years the consumer’s view on dried fruit has changed as the awareness of healthy snacking has increased.”

According to Ocean Spray, dried cranberries are powerful protectors of health as cranberries have anti-bacterial benefits and are rich in unique antioxidants and vitamin C.

Robinson adds: “We’ve had a tremendous response from the multiple retail and independent trade and now we’re turning our attention to wholesale and cash and carries as Ocean Spray Dried Cranberries 40g packs are an impulse buy. We’re working with the health stores wholesale sector on tailored promotional activity to drive distribution and rate of sale.

We are offering wholesalers a strong commercial plan to build a successful range and category within their business.”

Whitworths is aiming to boost the impulse bagged snacks category by enabling retailers to meet the growing consumer demand for healthier alternatives to traditional savoury snacks and crisps. Whitworths’ range includes Sunny Raisin and Fruits 25g, which Whitworths says was the first product in the UK to feature the Department of Health’s 5 a day logo.

Last year Whitworths launched Apple Crisps into the healthy snacking category in 10g packs. They are dried not fried and the health message is reinforced on-pack with the 5 a day logo and a ‘less than 1% fat’ flash.

Tim Shears, commercial director of Whitworths, says: “We are enabling retailers to offer their customers a range of healthier snacking options that are not only tasty, but nutritious too.

“This provides an incremental profit opportunity as growing numbers of consumers are now seeking healthier snacking alternatives in a broad range of food categories, including snacks.”

According to Jack Link’s, the launch of its range in 2006 added real momentum to the UK’s pound;50m meat snacks market and with plans for new product launches in 2007 Jack Link’s hopes to further change the outlook of the snacking industry.

Ernst Sattler, European managing director of Jack Links, says: “The UK meat snacks market is continuing to grow. The market has for many years been dominated by one brand which has not been good for the category as it has limited retailer and consumer choice. The rapidly growing demand from UK consumers for a new healthier meat snacking alternative has seen Jack Link’s out-sell the current market-leading brand by four to one in many outlets in the UK.”

The Jack Link’s range includes Jack Link’s Steak Bar, Beef Steak Nuggets and Beef Jerky.

European sales director Michael Reuther adds that there is a huge potential in meat snacks and the market is growing. He says that product placement is all important when it comes to selling. “We would recommend that they are placed with salty snacks.”

Another meat snack company, The Jerky Group, has launched its beef biltong brand BullOx. BullOx joins Rocking JC Beef Jerky and Rocking JC Beef Nuggets. Jerky originated in the USA and is a smoked product, while biltong has South African heritage and is naturally air-dried. Biltong has South African heritage and is naturally air-dried, it is high in protein and contains less than 6% fat, compared with the 35% fat level of standard crisps and aims to fulfil the consumers demand for lean tasty snacks.

The Jerky Group’s BullOx biltong is made in the UK by South African manufacturers using British and Irish beef.

James Newitt, sales director of The Jerky Group, says: “We believe there is greater awareness of biltong than there is of jerky here in the UK, especially with the recent influx of young South Africans and the draw South Africa now has as a travel destination. Our vision is to continue to lead growth of the UK’s beef snack category and biltong is a logical progression for us.”

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=== UBUK offers wholesalers advice on merchandising bagged snacks ===

Ranging

l Stock the fastest growing top sellers

l Take out slow selling lines which tie up money and space

l For major new product launches, display products on temporary equipment

l Encourage retailers to pass on deals to their customers

Display

l Ensure your fixture is well maintained, fully stocked and easy to shop

l Bring your fixture to life by using POS such as wobblers and posters

l Secondary sites can significantly increase your sales

Space

l Try to make sure that the right space is given to the best sellers, such as McCoy’s, Hoops, Mini Cheddars and KP Nuts

l 77% of crisps and snacks shoppers in an independent store will not buy an alternative if their chosen product is not available, so wholesalers should ensure that stock is available for retailers to buy

l Ensure you allocate the snacks fixture space appropriately, 80% of sales come from 20% of range

l 50% of your range should be allocated to crisps, with approximately 25% of this being reserved for more premium ranges such as McCoy’s Specials

l 42% of the fixture should be allocated to other snacks such as Mini Cheddars and kid’s snacks such as Space Raiders which is the no.1 economy snacks brand

l The remaining 8% of your bagged snacks range should be given to nuts, such as new KP Big Nuts

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=== Buyer’s viewpoint ===

The whole healthy eating issue has hit this sector in previous years (2005) with fried and fat cooked products. In 2006 and to date, the market has been reclaimed by new products coming on line which has largely been as a response to consumer needs – baked crisps rather than fried is one example. Manufacturers have changed the cooking oils to sunflower seed oil and these type of changes have all helped to stop the decline and hold sales. Premium products (Kettle) have done well, the consumer is prepared to pay for quality in this sector. In the past the big boys introduced a lot of new lines and this took their eye off the main lines which suffered as a result, this has now been reclaimed. Some of the big brands such as Walkers are flat at best, but KP is up. Kettle is well up with the premium brands as stated above.

The promotions at the moment tend to roll on and on – Multibuy is still important but only in a growth situation. From suppliers we are looking for support in both good and difficult times and to look for ways to develop and maintain a strong working partnership with an eye on what the market is doing and try to keep ahead of it by being flexible and creative.

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=== Buyer’s viewpoint ===

Trading in the snacks category was up 10% in value in 2006 and is up 7.5% so far this year.

In the category there is a move to healthier products. A re-launch of all major brands with less saturated fats.

There are more baked products, more nut, seed and fruit products The brands doing the best are Walkers Crisps, Doritos, Hula Hoops, McCoys, Mini Cheddars and Kettle. Sensations is still in decline. We receive good support from Walkers, KP, Kettle, Sun Valley, Red Mill and Dormen Foods.

Walkers Comic Relief and KP Big Nuts launch are both strong promotions at the moment. From our suppliers we look for good understanding of our business and our channel and willingness to work collaboratively with P H and our customers to develop business.

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