The Better For You (BFY) Snacks category is back in growth after a testing 18 months in which on-the-go shopping occasions were considerably reduced.

Roisin Witort, General Mills

Consumers are looking for lower levels of fat, salt and sugar in their snacks and are controlling their calorie intake.

General Mills supplies Nature Valley, the UK’s leading cereal bar brand, and Fibre One, which is being supported by the £3.5million Crave Club campaign.

Roisin Witort, Marketing Manager for Snacking at General Mills, tells Wholesale Manager how wholesalers can capitalise on the BFY Snacks opportunity.

How has the overall BFY Snacks category been performing in recent years?

Despite the challenges faced by the reduction of on-the-go missions over the past 18 months, the BFY Snacks category is returning to growth.

Snacks which boost nutrition through added fibre or protein, those fortified with vitamins, or those that help consumers get their five-a-day have been a key driver for the sector, as shoppers are increasingly conscious of what they’re putting in their bodies.

Health drove 29.3% of snacking choices in the past year1, with lower fat, salt and sugar levels a key consideration, as well as calorie control. This trend has been fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, with 80% of consumers saying they will make greater attempts to stay healthier because of Covid-192.

What are the key products in the General Mills Better For You snacks range that wholesalers should be stocking?

As the UK’s #1 cereal bar brand3, Nature Valley offers shoppers added benefits through core platforms such as Nature Valley Crunchy, made with 100% wholegrain oats and Nature Valley Protein, which is high in protein and fibre. These key ranges have always been major contributors to our brand’s growth and 2021 was no different. Despite the challenges many snacking brands have faced over the past year, Nature Valley has gone from strength to strength, with an increase in value sales of +6.2% (£57.6million) and more than five million customers4 across the UK. Nature Valley was also recently awarded Superbrand status. A Superbrand offers consumers significant emotional and/or physical advantages over its competitors, highlighting Nature Valley as a leader in the snack bar category.

Our gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan snack bar brand LÄRABAR – made with only simple and real ingredients like dates and nuts – meets the demand for minimally-processed options that suit a variety of lifestyles perfectly.

With many consumers turning to weight management solutions after more than a year of restricted movement and increased indulgence due to the various lockdowns, the weight management snacks category is now valued at £120.7m5. Driving this growth forward is our leading brand, Fibre One, which is now the third biggest brand in the category, delivering an impressive £4.2million over the last 12 weeks6.

Famous for its 90-calorie brownie range, Fibre One made the delicious snack even more enticing last year by reducing the sugar content by a whopping 30%, without compromising on taste.

What flavours/variants/pack formats are on-trend in the BFY Snacks category?

The pandemic has led to more and more shoppers avoiding ‘processed’ and high sugar snack bars, and switching to whole and raw ingredients, such as nuts, fruit and wholegrain. We recently brought our new ‘real food’ Nature Valley Full Mix bars to the UK, after a hugely successful US launch last year. Available in Peanut Butter & Blueberry and Peanut Butter & Cranberry, the Full Mix range is a truly indulgent, yet wholesome snack with a full variety of tastes and textures in one bar. Packed with berries, seeds, peanuts, wholegrain oats and peanut butter, the bars are high in fibre and a source of protein.

In fact, snack bars packed with protein are in high demand and we boosted our functional snacking portfolio with a Fibre One Protein platform last year. Our research found that 71% of Fibre One consumers are interested in protein but were wary of the high sugar and calorie content of the options on the market7. Our Fibre One Protein bar range is available in two varieties: Cookies & Cream and Caramel, with both flavours already ranking in the top 18% in the Diet Management Segment8. Each bar contains 90 calories, 10g of protein and 1g of sugar. The range is the ideal alternative – the bars are low in sugar and calories but taste great and give the perfect protein boost, especially for the pre-and post-gym occasion.

However, while consumers are looking for healthier options, they’re not willing to compromise on taste. They want the best of both worlds, which is why our Better For You Snacking portfolio is perfectly placed to offer the best of ‘permissible indulgence’. In fact, we took flavour inspiration from one of the more treat-led brands in the General Mills portfolio – Häagen-Dazs – for one of our latest launches: Fibre One Cookies & Cream Drizzle Square. The square is comprised of chocolate brownie, packed with white choc chips and cookie pieces, and finished with a sweet white chocolate flavoured drizzle. Cookies & Cream is an iconic, hugely popular flavour, which our audience can now enjoy in a low-calorie, high fibre snack. The newest SKU has contributed over £968K to the category over the last 52 weeks9. Over on LÄRABAR, we recently launched a Choc Chip Cookie Dough variant. Consumers are already raving about the new flavour, with feedback saying that it tastes like ice cream! We’re confident it will become one of our bestsellers in the UK, as it’s the highest turning flavour in the US portfolio10.

What further marketing activity do you have to support your snacks ranges?

Social media is huge part of Fibre One’s image. So much so that this year we invested £3.5million into our biggest campaign to date – ‘Crave Club’ – which included TV, digital, partnerships and a new social media strategy.

As part of the new strategy, we refreshed the look and feel of our platforms and elevated our messaging. We’ve also been working with a team of authentic and engaging influencers to bring the Crave Club values to life within their communities.

In addition, to amplify the Crave Club campaign even further, we partnered with women’s lifestyle title Grazia, to be the sole sponsor of the Grazia Life Advice Podcast, which has already seen a star-studded line-up of guests interviewed by host Lotte Jeffs over the past few months, with more to come as we move into 2022. We also have plans to collaborate further on branded content and live events to continue building connection between shoppers and the brand.

Over on Nature Valley, we invested £2 million into our 360? ‘Get Out More’ campaign, which aims to build connection between our Nature Valley range and UK families. As part of our ‘Get Out More’ campaign, we became the founding title partner of new immersive experience ‘Nature Valley Gone Wild Festival with Bear Grylls’, which took place over the August bank holiday, supported by a multi-channel campaign across TV, Social, Display and Digital Audio supporting an on-pack promotion offering our consumers the chance to win tickets to the festival.

How has Fibre One been performing since it was supported by the Crave Club campaign?

The campaign has proved hugely successful so far, with Fibre One contributing over £18million to the category since the Crave Club launched11.

What advice do you have for wholesalers to help them capitalise on the BFY Snacks opportunity?

Wholesalers should make sure they’re stocking a wide range of functional snacks, that offer added protein or fibre, as well as more permissibly indulgent options. It’s also crucial to help retailers offer their customers brands that people know and love, like Nature Valley and Fibre One – both in the UK’s top three snack bars!

Market complimentary categories together in depots – cross merchandising healthier snacks with functional/healthy drinks presents an opportunity to up-sell to retailers boosting their better-for-you offerings. A high visibility fixture – during January’s ‘new year new me’ period especially – is key to ensure time-poor retailers can find the section quickly and navigate it with ease.

How do you work with wholesalers to help them grow sales?

We provide wholesalers with the latest consumer insight and global snacking trends to make sure they have everything they need to make informed decisions. We also provide category insight on what is the right Better For you Snacking range to stock to deliver long term growth, as well as offering instore POS toolkits to some of our strategic partners in this space.


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