Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s Big Night In feature. As the nights draw in, the next big thing on the horizon is Christmas – but before that there are opportunities every evening of the week for great Big Nights In with friends and family. Which means great opportunities for sales of food and drink and other treats for sharing.

For larger-scale celebrations, October and November contain Diwali, Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes Night, each one a great occasion for a party. This year Diwali Day falls on Wednesday 26 October, and Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes’ Night are on the same dates as every year, 31 October (a Monday) and 5 November (a Saturday.) But the rest of the time, any night is all right for a Big Night In.

Different people have different ideas of what makes a Big Night In great. For many young males, a perfect Big Night In with the lads means extended gaming sessions lasting long into the night. Fuel is provided by Rustlers, the market-leading hot snacks that are one of the undoubted stars of the Big Night In scene.

Rustlers is set for further growth now brand owner Kepak Convenience Foods has secured a major distribution gain with a re-listing of its hot snacking range in Tesco. The announcement comes as Kepak unveils plans to double the size of its business in the next five years in the UK and Ireland and moving into Europe (see cover story and story on this page.)

For the ladies, an ideal Big Night In with the girls means getting comfy round the big screen TV and tucking into the chocolates and other goodies.  Household name Elizabeth Shaw (see story on this page) is bringing excitement and innovation to the UK’s £3.6 billion chocolate confectionery market with the launch of some premium-quality products targeting the after-dinner, gift and everyday-sharing sectors – and ideal for Big Nights In.

Those other Big Night In standbys, carbonated drinks and salty snacks, continue selling strongly. According to Mintel crisps and salty snacks’ sales hit £2.6 billion in 2010, with premium crisps and snacks doing particularly well.

Carbonated soft drinks’ recent sales have been helped by the ongoing economic gloom because they are seen as a cheap indulgence. But the unexpected big driver here is health. Mintel’s June 2011 report shows 45% of soft drinks consumers are more likely to consider drinking low calorie versions than a year ago, reflecting the major manufacturers’ continuing heavy promotion of diet and sugar free options aimed at adults.

The Grocery Trader

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