2016 State of Snack Food Industry Indicates Growth

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Cleveland — During the next five years, the snack industry will see $35 billion in growth, reports Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice-president and practice leader, Information Resources, Inc. Fortunately, she also reveals how that growth can be tapped.

Family Dynamics — It’s those aged 0 to 5 and teens that drive families to stores. Families without children are seeing declines in snacking purchases. The demand moments that drive purchases include hunger, tide-me-over, fuel, nutritional goals and being on-the-go.

Variety Is King — Consumers are looking for packs that contain different brands and/or flavors. They’re less motivated to purchase multipacks with uniformity, and value is important but that doesn’t mean the packs must be cheap, she explained. Variety also can be delivered with flavor fusions, something that can have broad appeal and provide new growth sources. Ingredient claims are “the new frontier” where variety can come from different delivery forms for fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins derived from sources such as lentils and chia seeds.

Other trends Wyatt shares include how “real” food is resonating with consumers. Co-branding is big, allowing for extensions into new categories. Spicy and tangy is emerging as a desired flavor. Limited time offers are still reliable as drivers of store traffic. And when considering a macro view of healthier versus indulgent options, growth is nearly dead even at 3.8 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

Wyatt notes foodservice is winning when it comes to snack source destinations, outpacing retail outlets. More specifically, “value and convenience channels are driving growth,” she said.

Regarding e-commerce, the field is dominated by Amazon.com, Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., but there’s still fragmentation among other stores. The bulk of orders, however, are for major brands that could be purchased in retail channels, a practice likely explained by subscription services such as Amazon’s Dash, which offers next-day delivery for grocery and everyday products. They are delivered automatically at scheduled intervals so consumers won’t run out of items.

Overall, Wyatt says Americans eat an average of 2.7 snacks per day, with 46 percent of the population consuming at least three snacks daily. Though this need is pervasive throughout the day, early morning appetite is showing growth, with 20 percent of snacks consumed then. At this pace, snacking will not be enjoying a break any time soon.