Any growth in a market the size of US potato chips is impressive. To grow value and volume at time when health is high on the consumer agenda, is particularly so.
Seven of America’s 10 biggest potato chip brands grew in value terms in 2015, according to data from retail analysts IRI for the 52 weeks ending 27 December 2015. (See the tables at the end of this article for full sales data.)
Among the big successes of the past 12 months have been Frito Lay brand Ruffles and Kellogg’s Pringles, which both grew by more than $30m in the past year.
Pringles has room to grow
Kellogg has big ambitions for Pringles in the US, telling last month’s Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference that although the brand is enjoying success in the US, it has a relatively low market share compared with its performance in Europe.
This means the brand has room to grow in North America, believes Kellogg, which plans to invest this year to ensure it has the core range right while opening up new occasions and retail channels through the smaller snacking tin format.
The ability to target a wide range of occasions is a key reason for the success of the Frito-Lay business, according to owner PepsiCo, which last month reported 2% net revenue growth in its Frito-Lay North America division in 2015, with operating profit up 6%.
“The reason Frito-Lay does as well as it does is that it can take in occasions from across the snacking categories,” said PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi at the time, adding that shifting focus from what it called XXL size packs to smaller XL bags had increased penetration in smaller households.
Strong growth from Kettle
In percentage terms, Kettle was one of the strongest chip brands - so little wonder that Snyder’s-Lance was keen to snap up Kettle owner Diamond Foods in a $2.6bn deal that completed a few weeks ago.
Sales of Snyder’s-Lance core market-leading pretzel brand Snyder’s of Hanover were down around $15m in the past year, although this was partly offset growth in the 100-Calorie and Pretzel Poppers ranges. Although not big enough to make the list of top 10 pretzel brands, Poppers sales have reached $9.7m in less than a year on shelf.
While the overall pretzel category is looking flat, there is plenty of growth from other snacking sub-categories.
Popcorn is popping
Strong performances from private label products and the Barcel brand have driven almost $150m growth in the tortilla/tostada category, while Frito-Lay has made a major contribution to the growth of both the corn snacks and the cheese snacks markets it dominates.
And, of course, the popcorn market is popping – making it the strongest of IRI's snacking sub-categories in percentage terms. Number one brand Smartfood has grown more than 20% to $244.7m, while second-placed Skinnypop is catching up – growing 51.6% to $176.9m.