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Fruit & veg grab bigger share of on-the-go snack category: Nielsen

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Gill Hyslop

By Gill Hyslop+

Last updated on 22-Aug-2017 at 12:15 GMT2017-08-22T12:15:18Z

The snackable on-th-go fresh produce sub-category is growing as consumers continue to choose healthy fruit over calorific baked goods. Pic: ©iStock/Duka82
The snackable on-th-go fresh produce sub-category is growing as consumers continue to choose healthy fruit over calorific baked goods. Pic: ©iStock/Duka82

The $16.3m ‘snackable’ fruit and vegetable sub-category may not be as big as the $27bn salty snack category, but it is making a big dent into the $1.1bn ‘on-the-go’ snacking sub-category in the US, according to annual Nielsen data, ended May 27, 2017.

Salty snacks still reign supreme among US consumers looking to satisfy their cravings, generating more than $27b in sales across Nielsen-measured US stores for the year ended April 1, 2017.

Sweets aren’t too far behind with $20bn in sales, followed by cookies with sales in excess of $7bn.

However, there is little doubt Americans are growing increasingly health-conscious and are grabbing for more ‘snackable on-the-go’ options in the fruit and veggie aisles.

While many areas of the store have struggled to find growth, the $1.1bn on-the-go snacking sub-category has posted a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 10% every year between 2012 and 2016.

Fruit cups

US manufacturers and retailers are playing their part in keeping up with growing sales, having added 900 new snacking items to grocery shelves over that period; 600 of which were individual-servings of fresh cut fruit.

Manufacturers are also seeing the benefits of combining fruit options with other items, such as vegetables, nuts and dips.

Retailers sold $117m in mixed fruit for the year ended May 27, 2017, which was just slightly ahead of sales of mixed fruit items paired with at least one other component.


Fresh fruit is the clear market share leader, claiming 44% of the snackable produce category, up 17% from the year prior.

Comparatively, 17% of on-the-go snacking dollars are spent on fresh vegetables.

Fresh smoothies claim the second spot, with a 27% market share of the category, while dried fruit and nut snack mixes only command 7%.

Opportunities abound

However, many fruits and vegetables are still not offered as an on-the-go snack, and with the sub-category showing no slow down, the opportunities abound.

While consumers have a myriad of snacking options, Nielsen still recommends retailers and manufacturers must offer a variety  to stay aheadIn box:

Nielsen defined ‘snackable’ produce to include included grapes, cherries, apples, berries, bananas, stone fruits, oranges, mandarins and baby carrots.

The ‘on-the-go’ snacking sub-category included items that are intended for individual consumption in a single sitting, such as individual-sized cut fruit or vegetables, dried fruit and nut snack packs and fruit cups.

Snacks differ from state the states

Pic: ©iStock/FoxysGraphic

Americans love to snack, but what they snack on depends on a variety of reasons including where they live.

Looking across the US, Nielsen examined the similarities and differences consumers shared in this respect.

The market researcher’s 2017 Harris Poll EquiTrend study asked over 100,000 consumers to identify their favorite snacks they reach for when a craving kicks in. Each respondent was asked to rate their top 40 randomly selected brands and over 4,000 brands were named.

Sweets and chocolate dominated preference across the country, but Nielsen noted consumers in the East and West both ranked cheese (Sargento Sliced Cheese in the East, and Tillamook Co-op’s own name brand cheese and Sargento Ultra-Thin Cheese in the West) in their top 15 snack items.

Consumers in the Midwest also ranked non-sweet categories as their favorites, including Mondelez’s Ritz Crackers and Wonderful Pistachios from The Wonderful Company.

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