Britain is a nation of snackers, addicted to snacking on small portions of food in between meals or instead of them as our lives get busier. As a result snacking is one of the biggest drivers of food purchases in every consumer sales channel. Wherever there’s a shop or catering outlet that’s open, any time of day or night, people will buy things to eat and keep them going until their next meal. Which is great news for cash and carries and delivered wholesalers.

chazAccording to Mintel’s January 2014 Consumer Snacking report, the snacking habit is deeply ingrained among UK adults, with 98% of adults snacking at home, work or a place of study, and 70% doing so on the go. Two thirds of adults who snack do so at least once a day, and almost three in 10 twice a day or more.

Marketers spend their lives developing new products and hailing the emergence of new categories, so apologies if we leave anything out, but a comprehensive list of ‘portable’ snacking products that a cash and carry or delivered wholesaler should supply, would probably start with batter and dough-based foods, followed by cookies, cakes and pastries.

Then there would be natural snacks, including fruits and vegetables, and seeds, nuts and grains; and savoury snacks, including soup, bread and sandwiches, cheese, chips and crisps, crackers and biscuits, meatbased snacks and noodles. And in our age of convenience, we must also include the relatively recently arrived but nevertheless firmly established category of microwaveable hot snacks, led by Kepak’s Rustlers brand.

The manufacturers of drinks, frozen snacks and confectionery would argue that their products should also be seen as snacks, as they compete for share of mouth with these other categories. That’s a conversation for another day. Meanwhile the rise in the numbers of 25-34s is good news for wholesalers and their customers, as this group is more likely than the average consumer to snack on the go. Continuing investment in abovethe- line support from major snacking players appealing to this marketplace, like Kepak’s Rustlers, will play a key role in keeping the category front of mind with the consumer going forward.

The opposing factors of health and indulgence remain central trends in snacking. With 70% of snackers thinking that curbing snacking helps with their weight management, you could say this poses a threat to snacking’s growth. But it also provides a stimulus for manufacturers to focus their NPD on healthier variants or products with added benefits, appealing to those snackers who might otherwise cut back.

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