On March 4, the U.S. celebrates National Snack Day. And for the snack category, there most certainly is lots to celebrate. It has shown great strength in recent years, with growth far ahead of the total store. In 2016, same-store sales growth averaged 0.5 percent, with growth pulled down by heavy deflation in meat and several large center store categories. In addition, multi-outlets saw slight volume and unit declines that make for a challenging overall sales environment. Snacks, on the other hand, grew 2.8 percent across multi-store outlets in 2016, according to data insights firm IRI.
Salty snacks lead category growth
In addition to healthy dollar sales, multi-outlet stores also sold more units (+1.7 percent) and greater volume (+1.5 percent). This points to very sustainable growth, whereby gains are derived both by selling more product and slight price increases. Salty snacks had the greatest contribution to the increase in sales, and saw dollars rise by 4.0 percent. Dried meat snacks continued to perform well, though down from several years of double-digit growth to increasing a healthy 3.6 percent. This is closely followed by granola bars, at 3.4 percent and cookies, at 2.6 percent.
Convenience stores lead growth
As seen in candy, convenience stores put up strong sales numbers, driven by increased household penetration, trips and basket size. The c-store channel grew 4.2 percent overall, driven by very strong sales in salty snacks, dried fruit snacks, granola bars, cookies and crackers. The aggressive growth in dried fruit snacks and granola bars signifies a diversification of assortment by convenience stores. In addition to the highest dollar growth, convenience stores also put up the highest gains in units and volume on the board, at 2.4 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.
Grocery channel growth more subdued
Across snack categories, grocery managed a 2.2 percent increase in snacks, with only dried meat snacks putting up double-digit growth figures, at 13.4 percent. The grocery channel is, by far, the biggest outlet for snacks, ringing up $24.7 billion in 2016 and showing the highest absolute dollar growth. The number two and three contributors to growth for grocery were salty snacks and granola bars, at 2.9 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. While growth figures were a little more subdued than those of convenience stores, grocery too saw solid increases in units (+1.6 percent) and volume (+1.0 percent).
Dried fruit snacks and granola bars drove growth for Drug
Combined snack categories increased 1.9 percent for drug in 2016. While sales declined for cookies, crackers and rice/popcorn cakes, big gains were booked by dried fruit snacks (+35.5 percent), dried meat snacks (+7.7 percent) and granola bars (+4.7 percent). Unlike the other channels, drug derived dollar growth from price increases rather than selling more product. Across snack categories, units were flat and volume was off by 0.9 percent.
If you are a snack buyer, March 4th is a true day of celebration! Get your share of the growing snack market by attending the 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo this May at Chicago’s McCormick Place.