Fine food distributor Cotswold Fayre is reporting that snacks have become its fastest selling category in convenience, growing more than 5% year on year.

The company’s sku count has also increased by 15% over the past 12 months, to reflect and meet diversity and dynamic nature of the category.

With relatively low-cost products, long shelf life and wide-reaching consumer appeal, the fast-moving category is throwing up some interesting trends.

Paul Hargreaves, chief executive at Cotswold Fayre says: “The snacks category is incredibly exciting, offering something for everyone, with some really interesting emerging trends and unusual products.”

With increasing interest in ‘healthier for you’ options – snacking is no longer all about potatoes.  Cotswold Fayre predicts a move away from potato snacks, with chickpeas, plantain, corn, lentil chips, and even lotus seed-based products entering the category.

Paul Hargreaves continues: “While some consumers may still require some convincing or educating about both the benefits and taste of some of these new products, we’re seeing plenty of ‘weird and wonderful’ product combinations, which taste great and capture shoppers’ imaginations.  Many of these new snacks are also non-vatable, which makes a big difference when it comes to retail price.”

But, it’s not just product innovation, Paul Hargreaves believes that consumers are also looking closely at the environmental impact of packaging.

“Compostable or recycled packaging is going to be huge for this category, and the first brands to market with a sustainable packaging innovation will have a huge advantage.  When it comes to nuts, the solution is much simpler, as I expect to see more in-store refill stations offering consumers the option to bring their own containers to stock up on snacks.”

Cotswold Fayre’s sales shows meat snacks, like Wholesome Wolf Biltong, including beef, venison and pheasant varieties, are growing in popularity alongside vegetable crisps, demonstrating the diversity of the category.

While there are plenty of new options to choose from fuelling category growth, potato crisps, which will always have a place in the heart of the consumer.

Paul Hargreaves, chief executive at Cotswold Fayre says: “The savvy crisp producer is introducing new and enticing flavour combinations.  Take for example, Savour Smiths’ range which includes Wagyu Beef with Honey & Mustard, Bubbly & Serrano Chilli and Truffle & Rosemary. Or Corkers Olive Oil Crisps, which are performing extremely well for us – and of course, the introduction of Capital Crisps’ premium, long thin crisps, featuring beautiful flavours found in cities all around the world!”

So, when it comes to increasing sales, the advice from Paul Hargreaves is clear:  “Rather than filling the snacking fixture with purely traditional crisp flavours, mix it up with unusual flavours and some of the new healthier snacking options.”

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