Sugary treats take a hit as consumers cut back on snacking

By Vince Bamford contact

- Last updated on GMT

The variety of snacks consumers eat has fallen, says Mintel. Photo: iStock - marilyna
The variety of snacks consumers eat has fallen, says Mintel. Photo: iStock - marilyna

Related tags: Mintel senior food, Nutrition

Consumers are reducing the range of products they snack on, according to the authors of a new report on UK snacking habits.

A Mintel study of 1,500 consumers suggest Brits are focusing their snacking on a more limited selection of favorite foods.

People are cutting back on their repertoire​,” Mintel senior food and drink analyst Amy Price told this site. “However, their favorite snacks have remained their favorite snacks​.”

But, overall, the proportion of UK consumers who said they snacked at all dropped two percentage points year on year, from 97% in December 2014 to 95% in December 2015 – suggesting an opportunity for further development of healthier snacks

Sugary snacks decline

With the UK’s ‘war on sugar’ as intense as ever, sugar-laden snacking showed deep declines: Mintel found the shift towards a more limited range of snacks had resulted in the proportion of consumers who said they had snacked on cakes and sweet baked goods falling 12 points to 39%. Meanwhile, the proportion snacking on sweets dropped 11 percentage points to 29%, and chocolate snacking fell nine points to 59%.

It’s not only sugary treats that have been getting the cold shoulder, according to the report, with the proportion of Brits who ate potato chips – or other potato chip-style snacks – falling from 67% to 57%.

Healthier snacking

70%​ of snackers feel snack manufacturers should do more to reduce sugar in snacks

55%​ say they would be interested in snacks sweetened with sugar alternatives, such as honey or agave syrup

54%​ would be interested in healthier versions of their favorite snacks, such as low-fat potato chips

22%​ say they would pay more for all-natural snacks

19%​ would pay more for a snack with a low calorie count

18%​ would pay more for a snack with nutritional benefits

Even ‘healthy’ snacking declined, with a seven point drop in Brits eating fresh fruit outside mealtimes, to 61%; and those snacking on fresh veg falling from 32% to 21%.

One category that has fared better than most are savory biscuits, with a three-point decline that Mintel described as “not statistically significant​”. The UK has seen a raft of savory snacking biscuit launches in the past year, with new ranges launched by major suppliers including PepsiCo, Mondelēz and United Biscuits. These are seen as more healthy than sweet biscuits and potato chips, added Price.

Knock-on effect of health concerns

Snacking in the UK is almost universal, however health considerations continue to play a significant role in the market​,” she said. “Health remains an ongoing issue for consumers, with calorie and sugar content of high relevance and as swathes of the population try to address this, it appears to have had a knock-on effect on consumer snacking​.”

Seven out of 10 respondents told Mintel they saw cutting down on snacks is an easy way to reduce calorie intake, with 48% saying they try to eat healthily ‘most of the time’.

But despite demand for healthier options, only 11% of snack products launched in the UK in 2015 had a low, no or reduced sugar claim, found Mintel;  8% carried a low, no or reduced fat claim; and 4% carried a low, no or reduced calorie claim.

Currently, new product development is failing to cater to the demand for healthier products, suggesting scope for innovation in healthier variants to be used to appeal to health-conscious consumers​,” added Price (see box-out).

Source: Lightspeed GMI/Mintel

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