Worth as much as £25 billion annually, depending who you ask, the snacking megacategory is evolving rapidly as the latest generation of young adults exercise their buying power. Today’s younger consumers, especially Millennials, have health firmly at the top of their agendas and are actively seeking out healthier snacks, and manufacturers are focusing their NPD activity on these trendsetters.

But it’s not just the Millennials changing their snacking habits. Across the age groups we’re all becoming more concerned about being more active and getting fitter and a new crop of healthy snacks are emerging to meet that need, including products based on wholefoods, which are high in protein, fibre and whole grains.

And then there’s technology. Because we’re all connected and always on, the snack food industry now has to compete with our smartphones and other devices in those moments of boredom, pain, fatigue or self-indulgence, when we previously reached for our favourite snacks to cheer us up.

But what hasn’t changed in our snacking habits is the price factor. Kantar Worldpanel reports that a third of shoppers aren’t prepared to pay more than £1 per pack for snack bars. So it’s no surprise that when it comes to treating ourselves and for sharing occasions with friends and family, many of us still tend to go for for those longestablished and relatively cheaper staples of savoury snacking, crisps, snacks and nuts.

PepsiCo was already a world force in this part of the snack market before it bought the Walkers crisp brand back in the 1990s. Today PepsiCo is one of the UK’s leading names in snacks and nutrition, with a powerful portfolio including the Walkers core brand and an array of sub-brands including Sensations and Doritos, key players in their own right alongside Walkers crisps in the wholesale arena, where PepsiCo plays a crucial part in driving category growth.

Having developed the market this far, PepsiCo continues to support its snacking brands with a stream of NPD and some of the category’s biggest ad campaigns. Narrated as ever by Gary Lineker, who has appeared in Walkers ads since the ‘90s, Walkers’ latest TV advert highlights the Walkers range’s more unusual flavours and encourages people to discover them, highlighting the regional favourites. PepsiCo is also supporting Doritos, the number one tortilla chip brand, on TV this autumn, focusing on the newest variant, Doritos Collisions, which launched here in June after storming the US and Canada.

The Best of British snacking Northern Ireland-based Tayto Group is the biggest British-owned snacks business with a portfolio covering key segments of savoury snacking, including Golden Wonder Crisps and Snacks, Mr Porky, Real Crisps, Midland Snacks and Portlebay Popcorn.

Matt Smith, Tayto Marketing Director says: “Flavour has always been at the heart of the Golden Wonder brand, and our crisps deliver ‘more punch per crunch.’ Our focus remains on offering great value to consumers and strong margins for retailers.”

Another Tayto brand, Ringos’, sales have doubled in the past year, helped by the smaller packs having under 100 calories. Pork snacks are often overlooked in this sector, says Matt Smith: “Consumers crave the crunchy, savoury taste and stocking leads to increased sales for wholesalers and retailers.”

Mr Porky’s portfolio includes traditional scratchings and premium Prime Cut and Hand-cooked varieties, as well as Mr Porky Crispy Strips, delivering the taste of scratchings with a lighter texture and 30% less fat.

Speciality crisps

Mainstream crisps dominate the market for everyday snacking. But when consumers want more indulgent snacks for special occasions, says Kizzy Beckett, Senior Brand Manager for Kettle Chips, they are far more selective, going for the tastiest and best quality, considered enjoyment and premium and trusted snacks. Kettle Chips, the nation’s best loved and best-selling hand cooked crisp brand, have launched a raft of NPD including three new Ridge Cut products in 135g sharing bags with bold seasonings, Jalapeno Jack, Barbecue Beef Brisket and Chinese Spare Rib. Sharing snacks’ strong category growth of 10.6% year-on-year is good news for Kettle, whose launch of a smaller £1 price-marked sharing pack tapping into that trend has been well received.

Beef Jerky gets perky

Dried meat snacks’ origins offering meat on the move go way back, but in our busy times they’re growing in popularity in the UK. Jack Link’s, from the world’s no.1 meat snacking producer is one of the fastest growing ambient snacking brands and has new pack designs for its Beef Jerky range, which contains 100% lean beef and comes in 25g and 75g varieties, RRP £1.50 and £3.

Big news from Kerry Foods

Staying with savoury snacks Kerry Foods, the marketers of the Fridge Raiders range, has brought all the Kerry Foods snacking products, including Mattessons, Fire & Smoke and Go Go’s under the Fridge Raiders brand. Each Fridge Raiders product is powered by protein and offers a perfect solution for modern day snackers.

The new-look Fridge Raiders fresh protein snacking range brings smarter, on-the-go snacking solutions to the nation, keeping adult snackers powered through the day. Alastair Gibbons, Marketing Manager for Fridge Raiders at Kerry Foods, takes up the story: “The snacking opportunity is huge, worth a staggering £25 billion in the UK and making up 20% of food consumption occasions. Fridge Raiders’ previous positioning targeted teenagers, who, together with kids, represent 15% of snacking occasions. We see a great opportunity to widen the brand’s appeal among adults, capturing a much larger audience who account for 85% of snacking occasions. We want these consumers to identify Fridge Raiders as a smart snacking solution, helping them to get the most out of every day.”

Taste the world

The booming demand for bolder, spicier food continues to drive globally inspired snacks, but attitudes to health are also changing, with 53% of snackers interested in healthier versions of their favourite snacks. The total savoury snacks market, worth £3bn, only grew 1% last year, but world snacks grew 22.4%, marking these out as a huge opportunity for wholesalers, particularly Indian snacks.

Debbie King is Director of Commercial Sales & Marketing at Cofresh, whose key brands, Cofresh Indian snacks, the UK’s No 1 Indian snack brand and the Eat Real ‘free from’ and vegan range of plantbased healthier snacks (see below), offer wholesalers an opportunity to monetise these trends. Cofresh has seen 40% growth in its Asian mixes over the last 12 months. Cofresh’s active NPD programme has led to this autumn’s launch of two new Asian mixes, traditional Khatta Meetha and new Chilli & Lemon Bombay Mix, and three new flavours extending Cofresh’s potato-based ‘Grills’ range, Sweet Chilli, Peri Peri and Chilli Cheese.

Debbie King says crosscategory promotions are a great way for wholesalers to encourage retailers to offer a onestop shop for people to buy into multiple categories such as wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks. Clear messaging of cross-category deals and interrupting shoppers with snacking zones in-depot and online will also help uplift sales.

Healthier Snacking The Eat Real range from Cofresh includes the popular gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan-friendly Hummus, Lentil and Quinoa Chips, Quinoa Puffs and Veggie Straws, in 80- 135g sharing bags. Six new flavours including Mango & Mint, Chilli Cheese and Paprika launched in response to growing demand for healthier snacks which don’t compromise on taste.

At a time when many of us are struggling to balance a hectic lifestyle with healthy eating, snacking between meals has the potential to make us feel full and suppress overeating later on. Of the different snacking options, whole foods that are high in protein, fibre and whole grains stand out as keeping us feeling fuller for longer. Sue McIntosh, Head of Marketing at Meridian Foods has watched the growth in popularity of snacks based on these products: “Consumers are increasingly health conscious, and healthy living is one of the strongest food trends. As the number of people choosing to live more healthily increases, so does their need to refuel with naturally sourced energy.”

Meridian Foods have also noticed a shift in breakfast trends, with consumers opting for quick on-the-go snacking options that don’t impact on their time constraints in the morning. According to Meridian Foods’ October 2017 survey into our breakfast eating habits, the average time we dedicate to breakfast these days is just 13 minutes. This is in line with the big growth area in the breakfast market, namely the increase in ‘on-the-go’ breakfast products and snack bars.

Meridian Foods is best known for its peanut butters, but also offers a range of snack bars which support a healthy lifestyle by helping provide a natural source of protein, between 6-8g per pack, and energy. They are the perfect option to stay fuelled on the go, and ensure we’re getting enough protein in their diet. The protein in Meridian’s snack bars is provided naturally from the roasted nuts used in their peanut butters, without the added processed protein found in other protein snack bars. Meridian’s bars are dairy, soya and gluten free and suitable for vegans.

As consumers’ snacking becomes more mindful of health concerns, Metcalfe’s, part of Kettle Foods since 2016, has re-launched its single serve range with a focus on under-100 calorie snacks that don’t compromise on taste. Joining their Popcorn and Ricecakes are new snack-sized Mini Ricecakes, 81 calories per pack and savoury Corn Chips, a popped tortilla-shaped snack containing under 95 calories per pack.

Younger consumers focus less on main meals and more on snacking. Sam Garnham, Senior Brand Manager for Metcalfe’s, points out, “Many want options with lower fat, sugar or salt contents, and Metcalfe’s provides the perfect solution, offering both choice and great taste, with the added assurance that portions are under 100 calories.”

Continuing the healthy theme, Pipers Crisps has just launched a new range of innovative snacks tapping into the fast growing ‘better for you’ (BFY) market, which is now worth nearly £125 million (9.3% year on year growth) and has over half the population buying in. Pipers Crispeas are a fresh take on the British pea, in three delicious flavours – Matar Paneer, Salsa Verde and English Mint – offering a low calorie (less than 95 kcal per pack) source of protein and soure of fibre snack, with all the bold taste associated with Pipers snacks. Pipers Crispeas are gluten-free, wheat-free, barley-free and suitable for vegetarians.

And finally, the directors of Scottish farmers’ collective Growers Garden and 15 farmers from East of Scotland Growers have established Growers Garden, the world’s first extruded snack using fresh vegetables and containing a minimum 27% of fresh broccoli. Delivering all the high fibre health benefits of superfood broccoli but with less than 100 calories per 22g pack, these all-natural, veganfriendly, gluten free snacks contain fresh vegetables, unlike many other ‘vegetable’ snacks containing 2- 3% dry veg powder.


With the quick meals and snacks category, including pot snacks and soup, worth £380m, there is continued demand for convenient products that are easy to prepare and can be enjoyed at home, at work or on the go. After Super Noodles Pots’ successful launch into grocery last year, Premier Foods’ Batchelors range is rolling out in convenience.

Available in four popular flavours, Chicken, BBQ Beef, Curry, and Bacon, the pots give retailers the opportunity to offer shoppers a tasty snack or lunch time solution from a brand they know and trust. Steve Kelly, Convenience Channel Director at Premier Foods, comments: “People love Batchelors Super Noodles and the new pot format has helped us modernise the range, making it more relevant for the convenience market and impulse occasions. We have sold 16.9m of Super Noodles Pots since launching into grocery, demonstrating the appetite for this product.”

Children are an important market for pot snacks. Branded meal and snack manufacturer Symington’s, has brought out a number of new family friendly Disney Kitchen products, including Snack Pots (50g), a range of 50/50 wheat/Durum pasta pots available in Creamy Cheese, Cheese & Tomato and Creamy Chicken flavours. They provide a source of protein, contain wholegrain, are low in fat and have no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Symington’s has also unveiled a brand new wholesale focused pack format for its popular Naked Noodle brand, the number one authentic pot snack, which is high in protein and low in fat and commands 45% of the market.


Sweet snacks are the other part of the snacking category’s success story, attracting both major manufacturers and smaller innovators to bring out NPD. Primarily a chocolate and sugar confectionery manufacturer but involved in grocery through its Nutella spread brand, Ferrero entered the sweet snacks category with a bang last year with Nutella B-Ready, a light and crunchy biscuit. Now worth over £15m in sales, Nutella B-Ready is established as an ideal mid-morning snack, containing 115 calories.

General Mills is launching new lines across its Fibre One and Nature Valley portfolios. GM’s snacking division has grown +35.4% and household penetration has reached 25.3%. Cake Bars are being added to Fibre One’s guilt-free snacking range in two flavours, Triple Choc and Carrot Cake. Both honour the Fibre One USP with 90 calories per bar, and contain at least 30% more fibre, 30% less fat and 30% less sugar than the average cake bar.

Fibre One’s latest NPD offers a bar for any time of day, with Fibre One Popcorn Bars perfect for a mid-morning snack, Brownies the ideal afternoon treat and Cake Bars answering the evening occasion. Fibre One continues to show rapid growth, worth £17m, +111% on last year. Within the Cereal Bars & Healthier Biscuits category, General Mills now holds a 12.3% value share at £69m, with value sales up 35% to £18m.

Choc Chick, a relatively small player but a leading name in cacao, is continuing its expansion, launching into vegan snacking with two dairy free chocolate snacks, Quinoa Pops and Plantain Bites, both gluten free and endorsed by the Vegan Society. Following their Carb Killa range’s success, Grenade, the Active Nutrition and protein brand, has expanded its portfolio of low sugar, high protein snacks to include a new ‘party trick,’ the Birthday Cake Carb Killa bar.

And finally Fruit Bowl, the full on fruit snack designed to provide children with a healthy snack that counts as one of the recommended 5-aday, has won two ‘Loved by Parents’ (LBP) Awards 2018. Fruit Bowl’s popular Strawberry Flakes won a coveted Platinum Award in the Best Children’s Snack category and was awarded a Gold Award for Best Children’s Dessert.

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