As consumers spent more time at home during the pandemic, snack sales grew 8%. An NPD Group survey found 35% of consumers wanted enough snack foods on hand during quarantine, with a preference for salty snacks and frozen sweets.
“We’ve seen consumers turn to indulgent snack foods in other challenging times, and although history isn’t repeating itself during COVID, it is rhyming,” NPD food and beverage industry analyst Darren Seifer said in a release announcing the company’s findings. “Although we can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, I think it’s safe to say snack food manufacturers and retailers can expect elevated snack food usage while COVID-19 restricts our restaurant usage and overall movement, in particular, school closings and work from home orders.”
Scott Owen, Senior Grocery Merchandiser at PCC Community Markets in Seattle, told Supermarket News that not only are consumers picking up indulgent snacks, like chips, but they’re also buying larger bags of them.
“Tortilla chips reign supreme, and shoppers prefer larger bags of tortilla and potato chips as shopping cart totals grow and the frequency of visits decline,” he said.
PepsiCo Inc., for example, reported double-digit growth of brands such as Lay’s and Tostitos, which saw sales jumps of 32% and 42%, respectively.
While price has long been a primary driver of snack sales, consumers increasingly seek healthier snack options. Overall, more than half of consumers switched from traditional snack offerings to high-protein or low-sugar options in 2020.
Sally Lyons Wyatt, Executive Vice President and Practice Leader at Information Resources Inc. (IRI), told Food Business News that younger shoppers, in particular, eschew indulgent snacks for those with health benefits.
Wyatt cited IRI’s research, which showed:
54% of consumers are shopping for snacks that contain vitamins and minerals.
38% look for snacks with probiotics.
48% want high-fiber snacks.
As a result, more snack makers are developing new products targeting this growing niche, including functional ingredients, including fruits and vegetables.
Dairy’s benefited from this healthy snack trend, with cheese, drinkable yogurt, and smoothies performing exceptionally well.
Flavor Still Rules
Despite the increased popularity of healthy and functional snacks, flavor remains the leading draw, and consumers are more likely to experiment with new flavors when shopping for snack foods. FMCG Gurus found that, globally, “72% of consumers have become more experimental with their choice of food and drink within the last five years.”
Hot and spicy snacks are among the most popular snack flavor categories, but barbecue, salt, ranch, and garlic remain popular. Consumers have also started experimenting more with global flavors.
Flavor customization is a growing part of this experimentation. Frito-Lay began offering customers the chance to order custom variety packs of snacks from its website, which boasts more than 100 options.
Introducing Networked Formula Management
TraceGains helps brands that want to double down on the snacking trend. But creating and updating recipes can be the biggest drag on new product development. We’ve heard from many companies that finding new suppliers and ingredients takes too long. And when companies find a match, they must navigate mountains of paperwork to ensure everything’s in order.
With TraceGains Network, manufacturers and brand owners can connect with their suppliers and items and instantly access the supply chain data and documents needed to jumpstart formula development. TraceGains Network has grown exponentially over the last decade. Today, companies find that, on average, 80% of their suppliers are already on the network.
Want to learn more? Listen to TraceGains CEO Gary Nowacki and RTI Advisors Certified Food Scientist Susan Mayer in an on-demand webinar where they discuss innovation challenges and opportunities facing R&D teams. Attendees will also see TraceGains networked Formula Management solution and how it facilitates better, faster innovation. Check it out here.