According to Mintel, 95% of people eat between meals and snacking is now a daily habit for 66% of those people (Mintel).

For these individuals, snacks are often viewed as a necessity to keep energy levels up between meals or indeed replacing meals, especially later in the day.

With consumers more mindful than ever of the quality of food they consume and the nutritional benefits their choices provide, to truly succeed at snacking occasions, wholesalers should pay close attention to what they are selling and ensure that it appeals to shopper’s needs.

Growing emphasis on health is driving dynamic change in the snacking landscape. Consumer movement away from sugar & processed foods, driven by government and public scrutiny, is benefiting snacking products that are naturally nutritious, such as protein rich dairy snacks, including cheese.

Indeed, 39% of adults now claim to be snacking on cheese at least twice a week between meals, with around half of cheese snacking occasions taking place at lunch (Kantar). The cheese adult snacking sector is currently worth £35.6m (IRI).

Anca Lazar, Senior Brand Manager of Cathedral City Snacking at Saputo Dairy UK, explains: “Snacking has reinvented itself in a big way over recent years and snacks today need to work harder and smarter than ever to appeal to growing consumer concerns surrounding health and convenience.

“Consumers are becoming more mindful of the quality of calories, which means that nutritious, protein rich snacking products, such as dairy-based snacks have become increasingly popular with shoppers. Saputo Dairy UK’s adult snacking range, which includes our grab and go Snack Bar, and our popular Minis nets, offer consumers a nutritious savoury snack alternative while also delivering on taste, and this appeal is evidenced in our performance”.

In response to growing consumer demand, Saputo Dairy UK has placed considerable focus on its Cathedral City Adult Snacking portfolio, which leads the way in the sector. Now worth £12.7m and contributing 36% of total adult cheese snacking revenue in total market (rising to 71% in total convenience) the Cathedral City adult snacking range includes four of the top 8 selling single serve adult cheese snacking SKUs in the convenience channel.

Victoria Southern, Marketing & Category Director at Kerry Foods, comments: “Snacking occasions are on the rise, with more working from home. In fact, during the lockdown period there were 148m more snack occasions per week.”

In terms of what is driving this trend, snacking is highest amongst 16-24-year olds, with 99% said to be snacking during this time.

With that said, a significant 92% of over-65s have still reported to have snacked, demonstrating the universal appeal of snacking.

“Consequently, it is vital that wholesalers provide a large range of options as part of a food-to-go offering to cater to this consumer demand,” adds Southern. “The advent of chilled food-to-go is bringing a whole new dimension to the category and therefore with it an opportunity for the industry.”

Consumers are looking to products such as snackable chicken and nuts to get the right nutritional intake – 44% of adults, and 56% of 16-34-year olds view snacks as a good way to boost their nutritional intake (Mintel). Chilled food-to-go options allow people to get the nutrition they require in a world where the three stalwarts of breakfast, lunch and dinner are now often not the norm.

When considering what to stock, 76% of people are looking for protein when choosing healthier snacks (Mintel).

“For wholesalers to ensure they are driving sales, it is therefore vital they are tapping into this health-conscious snacker and providing retailers with snacks that are high in protein,” says Southern.

Fridge Raiders has created a range of protein snacking made with real food ingredients including Chicken Bites and Cheese & Nuts Combos, all of which are convenient to eat while on the move making them a robust choice.

A great option for wholesalers looking to provide food-to-go options is Fridge Raiders Chicken Bites, made from 100% real chicken breast, which are experiencing a 12.4% growth and are now worth over £64m RSV (IRI). Available in mini packs, grab bags and multipacks these bites are ideal for eating on-the-go and provide a high source of protein.

Becci Eplett, Marketing Manager, Huhtamaki UK, comments: “The change and uncertainty faced by the quick service food sector has driven many businesses to focus on takeaway and delivery. This could be a new way of working for lots of operators and a chance to bolster sales as they navigate this tricky time in the industry.”

For many businesses who had never even considered takeaway or delivery of food before lockdown, there has been a rapid learning curve and they have adjusted to the new challenges faced by the hospitality industry.

Changing business models virtually overnight, from eat in to takeaway and home delivery has been a big step, and as such, Huhtamaki has seen a substantial increase in demand for food and drink packaging that can meet this need.

With this in mind, Huhtamaki has launched the Home Delivery Packaging Portfolio, a range of products, some of which have been created from scratch, just to meet the new demand. Carton board packaging for hot pizza, burgers, fish & chips plus Huhtamaki’s innovative fluted board range which allows food to be heated in the pack, as well as cup board that’s great for sauces, noodles, curries or pasta and rPET tumblers with lids – all ideal for takeaway or home delivery, including cakes and other desserts.

Ensuring that packaging is fit for purpose as well as responsibly sourced is important for all businesses, as the industry continues to grapple with environmental concerns.

“Quality and hygienic packaging is crucial for customer piece of mind, and fundamentally, the packaging should enhance the experience of the meal,” says Eplett. “Operators are also now very conscious of the environmental issues that have been associated with single use packaging and should look to purchase products that are responsibly sourced.”

Matt Goddard, Wholesale Trading Director, PepsiCo, comments: “As we entered lockdown, people instantly started shopping very differently in the impulse channel, with increased visits to local stores. Some of this behaviour has continued, as shoppers continue to use their local store for their top-up purchases throughout the week, as working from home remains the norm for many.”

With many households enjoying taking on new morning rituals as part of lockdown, chilled juice has continued to be consumed at breakfasts, as shown by take-home juice growing by +14% during lockdown (Nielsen). Tropicana on a whole has also performed well, seeing growth of +5.6%, driven primarily by take home formats +20.8%, where orange juice has performed particularly well +21.4% (Nielsen).

“As we exit lockdown, we expect shoppers to also be on the lookout for smaller impulse juice drinks, as they make their way back in to the office and demand meal deals and make impulse purchases,” adds Goddard.

To cater for this demand, Tropicana offers smaller, convenient juice formats across the range. The 250ml and 300ml bottles have proved to be amongst the most popular sizes, with the core range performing particularly well in the past. Tropicana Smooth Orange 300ml remains the UK’s #1 Instant Consumption Beverage SKU in both impulse and the overall category (Nielsen).

From the initial bulk-buying stages to the exiting of lockdown, shoppers have turned to the brands they know and trust. Sales of Tropicana grew +26% during early March and the brand saw sustained growth of +23% during lockdown (Nielsen).

“As we move from lockdown to the current easing period, existing shoppers continue to purchase Tropicana in greater frequency and higher volume, while new shoppers are also attracted to the category,” comments Goddard. “Convenience retailers can tap into this demand, by stocking the best-selling SKUs products that customers will be looking for while shopping.”

Adam Woolf, Brand Director for Quick Meal, Snacks and Soups (QMS&S) at Premier Foods, commented: “The long-term impact that Covid-19 will have on the industry remains to be seen, but one of the most significant changes in this category that came from lockdown was the move towards convenient options that can be prepared at home. As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, there are still a large number of unknowns around how people will choose to adapt. This means that it remains important that we provide a variety of options and formats to suit different lifestyles.”

As a result of people eating more meals at home, and turning to convenient solutions that work around their changing routines, the lunch time occasion has seen +10% category growth (Kantar).

The convenient nature of the Batchelors range means it has experienced growth across different formats, including Super Noodle Pots which traditionally have been enjoyed as part of the ‘food to go’ occasion.

Many of the convenient elements that people look for with on the go options are translating for at-home consumption, something that mirrors shopping habits we witnessed before lockdown, which saw +8% growth across noodle pots (IRI).

Premier Foods has recently rolled out a larger 100g pot format across its Batchelors ‘Super Noodles’ line-up, following the successful launch of BIG Pots into the ‘Pasta ‘n’ Sauce’ range. Available in three popular Super Noodles flavours – Chicken, BBQ Beef and Curry – the pots help meet the demand for more filling meal solutions, particularly for on-the-go shoppers.

Sausage roll brand Wall’s Pastry is giving consumers the chance to win a £1,000 UK holiday voucher every week, and various other high-value prizes as part of its new on-pack promotion.

The ‘free gift with every pack’ promotion will run until mid-December, across its Snack Sausage Rolls (available in packs of 4,10 and 12), Classic Pasty, Jumbo Sausage Roll, Vegan Jumbo Roll and a selection of its slices; Chicken and Mushroom, Chicken and Bacon, Chicken Tikka and Peppered Steak.

For just the price of a sausage roll, consumers can win a prize with every purchase, including a £1,000 forest holiday voucher and a £500 Halfords gift voucher which will be given away every week throughout the promotion.

Other prizes include PrezzyBox vouchers, as well as hundreds of free manicures or pedicures and free memberships to Fabyouless.

Mike Holton, brand manager at Wall’s Pastry, said: “We are delighted to launch our latest on-pack promotion, it has been an unprecedented and difficult year for everyone, and we can’t wait to provide consumers across the country with some well-deserved treats.”

The promotion follows a YouGov survey, commissioned by Wall’s Pastry at the start of the UK’s lockdown, which revealed the nation missed going on holiday, shopping and leisure activities the most during the pandemic.

Holton added: “During the UK’s lockdown, we all reassessed the importance of our closest relationships and the activities we love doing together and our survey reflected that. It was fantastic to see socialising with friends and family, shopping and holidays ranking so highly – we wanted to tailor our promotion prizes to support the nation in doing what they missed the most and we wish everyone the best of luck.”

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