Crisps and snacks is one of the largest core snacking categories, worth £2.25 billion (Kantar), so there is a significant opportunity for wholesalers, and their retail customers, to maximise their share of this by stocking products which best align with current consumer trends.

“The top two things that all wholesalers should consider are stocking the bestsellers and prioritising larger formats,” says Scott Snell, Vice President of Customer at pladis UK & Ireland. “Wholesalers should always ensure they maintain stock of the bestsellers in the category. Some of our top-performing bagged snacks products are Jacob’s Mini Cheddars, worth £70.3 million and Jacob’s Twiglets, worth £12.2 million (Nielsen). Both of these products boast a loyal following, and this core range of savoury bagged snacks is what’s driving the greatest growth.”

Jacob’s Mini Cheddars, which are baked with real cheese, are growing +10.0% (Nielsen) and with 35% branded penetration (Kantar). With a core range consisting of Original and BBQ flavours, Jacob’s Mini Cheddars is the UK’s second-fastest growing major crisps & snacks brand.

Jacob’s Twiglets’ unique flavour profile and unusual shape and texture has helped the brand’s repeat purchase rate grow +5.6% (Kantar).”

“Moments of togetherness have also become an integral part of day-to-day life, as shoppers spend more evenings indoors at home,” adds Snell. “Many people have remained cautious about the amount of time they spend out of the house, and government measures look set to tighten in the coming months so snacks in larger formats that cater to evenings in are vital.”

Jacob’s Mini Cheddars’ strong performance shows just how much demand there is for individually-portioned bagged snacks, which provide a greater degree of portion control and are suited to varying snacking occasions.

“What’s clear is that shoppers are continuing to choose the established flavours and core products that they know and love and – with shoppers spending a large amount of time at home with other members of their household during the pandemic – larger formats, such as multipacks, which lend themselves well to sharing are proving more popular than ever,” comments Snell. “That’s why stocking the bestsellers in these formats is so crucial in this category.”

“Wholesalers should ensure that they are stocking products which align with current consumer trends, such as togetherness,” Snell suggests. “This means allocating space in-depot to popular products, across various categories, in larger formats – such as Jacob’s Mini Cheddars and Jacob’s Twiglets.”

Jacob’s Mini Cheddars Original PMP has value sales worth £4.7 million (Nielsen). Not only is it a product which is perfectly suited to sharing, but PMPs remain a sure-fire way to demonstrate value to consumers – something which is increasingly important in the current climate.

“We’d also suggest increasing the visibility of your crisps and snacks lines in-depot in order to generate higher sales growth through mindful merchandising,” Snell continues. “For example, beacon branding with Jacob’s at the end of the aisle can help to point retailers in the direction of the crisps aisle, as well as clear signage to help direct independent retailers to bestselling lines can benefit sales. Don’t forget, wholesale depots are big places, and the goal is to make the shopping experience as seamless as possible.”

Covid-19 has had an impact on the way that consumers shop, beginning with shoppers’ strong desire to stock up on essential items, and followed by a movement towards less frequent, higher-spend shops as consumers across the UK restricted the amount of time spent outside their homes.

So far, the convenience channel is benefitting from changing shopper behaviour, with a quarter of shoppers claiming to shop more at their local convenience store than they did pre-COVID-19 (Nielsen). In June, independent retailers saw sales soar 33%, compared to the same four weeks in 2019 (Nielsen).

“We expect that shoppers will continue to rely on local convenience stores,” adds Snell. “So, in order for wholesalers to support their retail customers, whilst driving sales in the process, it’s vital that they remain stocked up on the core, bestselling products.”

To help wholesalers maximise savoury snacking sales, pladis recently launched Jacob’s Mini Cheddars Smoky BBQ – a flavour which makes up 32% of sales for the brand in the convenience channel (Kantar) – in PMP format.

Matt Collins, Trading Director at KP Snacks, comments: “Over the past few years, the large weekly shop has been in decline, with 90% of UK shoppers now visiting a convenience store more often.”

As a result, the convenience market has seen growth of +2.7% YOY, with annual sales topping £38bn in 2018 (Nielsen). Top up is the biggest mission in convenience, accounting for 31% of all missions (HIM).

Bagged snacks remain a vital driver of growth within Convenience and demand shows no sign of slowing. CSN (crisps, snacks and nuts) is worth £3.3bn Nielsen) and over the last five years KP Snacks has delivered +142m RSV in growth to the category.

KP Snacks considers the key category drivers to be ‘together time’, ‘mealtime magic’ and ‘positive picks’.

The sharing segment is worth £1.3bn, the largest within CSN, it is currently experiencing growth of +9.8% (Nielsen). 38% of all convenience bagged snack sales are sharing (Nielsen).

“While consumers are spending more and more time at home at the moment, family distractions are ever more important whether it be movie night, a board game or a BBQ as the weather improves,” Collins adds. “Independent stores help families by stocking everyday treats to add fun and excitement to these occasions.”

Taste is a critical element of ‘Together Time’, with 51% of shoppers saying ‘flavour’ is the No.1 purchase driver when buying crisps or snacks (Mintel).

Tapping into the growth in sharing, 2019 saw the introduction of KP’s biggest ever new product launch – Mccoy’s Muchos which is worth £11.8m RSV, a year and half since its launch (Nielsen. The McCoy’s portfolio is worth £133m RSV and growing in value +3.2% (Nielsen).

For a more premium sharing experience, Tyrrells offers a range of premium crisps, nuts and popcorn. With a £50.3m RSV (Nielsen), Tyrrells products are currently purchased by over 5.9m households in the UK with its main shoppers falling within the 35yr+ ABC1 category (Kantar). Tyrrells is the brand driving the growth within the hand cooked crisps segment – in 2019 it grew +3.7% YoY, adding £1.4M RSV through a revitalised product & advertising campaign (Nielsen).

The healthy snacking occasion is growing in value at +10.4% (Mintel) which is much faster than other categories.

The KP Snacks portfolio now includes 32 products that are 100 calories or fewer per pack including POM-BEAR, Hula Hoops Puft, Skips, popchips and Space Raiders. With an RSV of £31.3m (Nielsen), pochips flavours include BBQ, Sea Salt, Sour Cream & Onion and Sea Salt & Vinegar. At under 100 calories per serving popchips also has a third less fat than the market leader.

Hula Hoops Puft, at under 72 calories, has now become a leading permissible snack option for those 29% of CSN consumers who are looking for healthier snacks (Mintel). In 2019 it grew +10% YoY to become a £9m brand (Nielsen).

28% of people are also interested in a high protein product like nuts (Mintel). In May 2019, KP Snacks announced the relaunch of KP Nuts which included a pack redesign to call out the protein and fibre contents to appeal to health-conscious shoppers which has driven 14.2% growth for the brand (Nielsen). 76% of consumers recognise that nuts provide a positive source of energy, fibre and protein (Mintel).

Worth £141.6m RSV, Hula Hoops is growing in value at +5.7% (Nielsen).

The original Hula Hoop added +15% YoY, growing in multipacks +16% YoY.

The Hula Hoops Big Hoops range grew +25.4% YoY to £45.6m, with Big Hoops Grab Bags being top sellers in meal deal ranges and £1PMP hugely important to convenience stores (Nielsen). BBQ Beef £1PMP is the top selling PMP in the convenience channel (Nielsen).

Hula Hoops Flavarings in the sharing format reached a £4.5m RSV launch, growing in value at +37.4% (Nielsen).

Hula Hoops Puft, at under 72 calories, has grown +8.6% YoY to become a £9.8m brand (Nielsen), delivering +26% growth as part of a ‘better for you’ campaign at the start of 2020.

KP supported the brand with a £3.5m investment in 2019 and a £1.5m investment in Hula Hoops Puft earlier this year.

Matt Goddard, Wholesale Trading Director, PepsiCo, comments: “There’s no doubt the current situation has brought unprecedented challenges for everyone, and our supply chain and sales teams continue to do an incredible job, prioritising the lines that are in the highest demand – most notably multi-packs and sharing bags. Although convenience stores have always been a community hub, during the pandemic they have become pivotal.”

Convenience stores have offered daily essentials to shoppers who would rather not visit the larger supermarkets, which has resulted in people shopping not only more locally, but also more frequently (Kantar). The changes in behaviour has helped drive growth within the convenience channel, with +8% growth in sales this year (HIM).

“For the foreseeable future, the usual big events out of home will not be going ahead, so more people will stay at home with their families,” adds Goddard. “Therefore, crisps and snacks will play an important role in people’s food cupboards, as they enjoy snacking at home or host small, intimate events with friends and family, dependent on changing lockdown restrictions.”

Since lockdown began, there has been a huge difference in shopper behaviour across the impulse channel, with people shopping both more locally and more frequently (Kantar). There has also been a decrease in sales of single-serve products, but an increase in sharing and multi-packs sales. With fewer people on-the-go, multi-packs are up +63% (vs pre-COVID-19 (Nielsen) as consumers look to cater for a series of lunchtime and snacking occasions.

PepsiCo’s bestselling products continue to be available to independent retailers, including its £1PMP range, which includes products such as Walkers Cheese & Onion, Doritos Chilli Heatwave, and Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli. Walkers’ Hero 20 line-up accounts for 18% of all Crisps, Snacks and Nuts sales in this channel (Nielsen). The range also includes the five bestselling crisps, nuts and snacks single SKUs in the impulse channel (Nielsen).

Health-conscious shoppers have been increasingly buying into the ‘Better for You’ segment, which is in growth by +4.2% (Nielsen). PepsiCo has launched two new lines for independent retailers under the Walkers Oven Baked range, which is the number one selling ‘Better For You’ SKU in Impulse, growing at +33% (Nielsen). Walkers Baked Ready Salted and Cheese & Onion flavours are available in £1PMP.

“When looking at shopping behaviours pre and post lockdown, we’ve seen a trend towards people shopping more locally and more frequently,” adds Goddard. “The traditional basket has changed, with single-serve products declining, but sharing and multi-packs increasing – particularly as more shoppers look to enjoy a night in.”

PepsiCo launched Doritos Stax in April this year, combining a recyclable triangular tube and bold flavours, including Ultimate Cheese, Sour Cream & Onion, Mexican Chilli Salsa.

Wotsits Flamin’ Hot flavour and Sizzling Steak flavours, launched at the start of the year, have driven £4.1 million RSV growth (Nielsen).

Sarah Beck, Kettle Foods Impulse & Shopper Marketing Controller, comments: “During lockdown many consumers have been trying to emulate out of home experiences in-home e.g. movie nights in rather than trips to the cinema and treating themselves to extra special food & drink at home rather than eating out. Unsurprisingly sharing snacks such as Kettle Chips and Metcalfe’s popcorn have increased in popularity, whilst single serve has declined as consumers snack less on the go. Shoppers have increasingly switched to online ordering and have been spending more time generally online, so like many other brands we have put more emphasis behind online media support and digital commerce.”

Vegan diets are on the rise and earlier this year Kettle Chips launched Vegan Sheese & Red Onion for those who crave Cheese & Onion but don’t eat dairy. The new seasoning was developed in partnership with Sheese, the vegan cheese producer and leading Vegan influencers Bosh and is already building a strong fan base.

As well as vegan specific products, many of the core Kettle range are suitable for vegans including new Thai Sweet Chilli which uses an authentically Thai recipe.

The most popular Kettle SKUs purchased in the Independents convenience market are Lightly Salted 150g and Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar of Modena 150g, followed by Mature Cheddar & Red Onion 150g and Kettle 80g £1 price marked packs.

Kettle’s latest launch is the Thai Sweet Chilli seasoning, made with a Thai inspired recipe on the brand’s signature hand-cooked chips developed using real-food ingredients by Kettle’s chef Phil Hovey. Kettle Chips is also introducing festive packaging across its 150g sharing range from October. Designed to resemble a present, each bag will feature a bow design finished with a blank gift tag so that shoppers can add a personalised touch when taking Kettle Chips to share at any Christmas gathering.

Matt Smith, Marketing Director for Tayto Group, comments: “In every piece of research we have conducted, taste always is the No1 reason for purchase, as consumers recognise savoury snacks are a treat and so, have to be ‘worth the calories’. This is underlined in pork scratchings where consumers crave the unique taste so much that 1 in 5 consumers will not buy another snack if they are not available, making them a ‘must-stock’ item.”

Whilst synonymous with the pub, 44% of purchases are in supermarkets or convenience (Norstat).

Pork snacks are the fastest growing snacking segment: +7.1% YoY which is almost three times faster than the category (IRI). Some of this is driven by pub closures but, given over 80% of pork snacks are consumed with a drink (Norstat), in-home consumption has further growth potential as people continue to recreate the pub experience at home .

Smith adds: “We’ve seen a number of changes over the past few months. Pub closures have certainly helped retail sales of pork snacks as people have looked to bring socialising into their homes. More broadly across all snacks, sales of impulse packs have also declined as shoppers have shifted into either multi-packs or increasingly sharing packs as they look to relax at home instead of going out.”

Tayto has increased the focus on its Golden Wonder £1 sharing range to meet the +22% YoY growth of £1 snacks (IRI).

In pork snacks, some longer-term consumer attitudes were uncovered during two years of research that has shaped Tayto’s newly refreshed range.

Smith explains, “Our research has exploded a number of myths about pork scratchings. Firstly, whilst pork scratchings are inextricably linked to the pub in consumers’ minds, less than a third buy or consume pork snacks in licensed venues with over half buying in supermarkets and over 20% in convenience stores. The historical link to pubs does however point to a clear merchandising principle – with 83% of pork snacks being consumed with a drink – hanging a clipstrip of pork scratchings next to BWS will capture incremental sales. Another interesting insight was that pork snacks are not just eaten by men – 44% are consumed by women.”

Given the current climate, health and value will become increasingly important in the coming year. These factors are driving the growth in Golden Wonder Ringos, +37% YoY (IRI) as it delivers a fully-flavoured snack from 59 calories per pack.

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