It’s snacking, Jim but not as we knew it

chazFood products eaten as snacks – as opposed to main meals – are a mainstay of both the independent retail sector, and the cash ‘n’ carries and delivered wholesalers that supply them. This reflects the fact that a high proportion of snack purchases are impulse, quite separate from the planned grocery shop.

Twenty years ago, if you talked about snacks to people in the cash ‘n’ carry and wholesale business, they would have agreed with you. But back then ‘snacks’ primarily meant crisps, snacks and nuts. Since then, snacking as a concept has gone way, way beyond these stalwarts, and snack products can now be anything – fresh, frozen, chilled or ambient. Some soft drink companies even refer to their products as liquid snacks, while keeping a straight face, but we won’t go there…

These days every food marketer worth their nutritionally reduced salt claims a strong snacking benefit for their products, not to mention nutritional advantages as well. Hence in this feature we hear from companies as diverse as California Raisins, Delifrance, Dormans, Kepak and Zeina Foods, all with fast moving products with a clear snacking proposition, and a powerful rationale for cash ‘n’ carries and delivered wholesalers to stock them.

So why are so many Brits snacking mad? Quite simply, the stresses and time pressures of modern working life mean millions of people fortunate enough to have jobs start the day by missing breakfast. After that, the options are to grab something on the way to work, or go without. If we have a lunch break, often it’s either at our desk or if we’re lucky, the office kitchen. That generally means a kettle and microwave, which opens the door for pot snacks and hot snacks. And then there’s the afternoon and the journey home, and then the evening and in our 24/7 world, the night, all presenting further opportunities for snacking enjoyment.

As Mintel’s latest research points out, Britain is a nation of snackers. Nine in ten adults eat snacks between meals, nearly half of them on a daily basis. While snacking at home remains more popular than snacking on the go, the majority of the population has adopted the snacking on-the-go habit, with two in three adults now eating snacks on the move.

This adds up to an estimated 13 billion at-home snacking occasions annually, and 6.4 billion occasions on the go, by adults, or a total of nigh on 20 billion. With the average value of snacks estimated at 30p at home and 87p on the go, this translates into market values of £4 billion and £5.6 billion respectively. Make sure you get your share of the snacking action in your business!