When things get tough Brits cheer themselves up with snacks because they’re relatively cheap and deliver a quick pleasure fix you can rely on every time. Everyone’s snacking – nine out of ten British adults eat snacks between meals, nearly half of us every day. Mintel, the market intelligence experts, reckon there are an estimated 13 billion at-home snacking occasions a year in the UK, and a further 6.4 billion occasions on the go.
A tsunami of ‘healthy’ snacks has flooded our fixtures in recent years. Many of these are so healthy you expect to live longer by eating them, but if they were all that consumers could buy, would they want to eat them? You can lecture consumers all you like about reducing the fat, sugar and salt, but they know what they want, and they want it – now.
Talking of healthy snacking, cereal, energy and snack bars were hailed as the saviours of snacking a few years back, with products targeting young adults being the main sales drivers.
Snack bars’ value sales saw double-digit growth here and elsewhere in Europe between 2005 and 2009, but Mintel reveals growth has slowed since and is expected to remain slow. The market seems to have peaked, with snack bars suffering from their positioning as neither indulgent enough nor healthy enough. In the recession they lost out to confectionery and biscuits, and the healthy eating trend faded away. In addition, snack bar’s higher prices hampered sales.
Meanwhile crisps and snacks remain one of the largest parts of the snacking market. According to Mintel, crisps and salty snacks achieved estimated £2.6bn sales in 2010. Salty snacks surfed through the recession, growing rapidly in 2008 and 2009, and slightly slower in 2010. Further opportunities remain to develop premium-end crisps and snacks, particularly for Abs with money to spend, who tend not to see price as an important factor in their choice.
Finally, crisp and snack manufacturers have entered the healthy snacking arena with low-fat/low-salt and wholegrain brands appealing to the nearly one third of consumers eating such snacks, who see quality ingredients and naturalness as important choice factors. Lower fat crisps have potential to appeal more effectively to the over-55s in particular by cutting back on salt, but when it comes to the crunch, they may not deliver on taste for everyone else.
The Grocery Trader