Revealed: How US manufacturers and retailers can tap summer snacking boom

By Vince Bamford

- Last updated on GMT

Snacks including potato chips get summer sales boost. Photo: iStock - pkanchana
Snacks including potato chips get summer sales boost. Photo: iStock - pkanchana

Related tags Snack food

Convenience stores should shake up their product ranges to make the most of summer snack sales, according to General Mills.

Research by the Chex and Bugles brand owner shows sales of many types of snack are higher in the summer than the rest of the year - and that some snack categories even benefit more from the summer months than soft drinks.

General Mills compared sales of key products during the summer with how they performed the rest of the year.

Indexing scores to average non-promoted dollar sales during the remainder of the year, the strongest seasonal performance was from seeds, with non-promoted dollar sales 27% higher in the summer. This was followed by nutritional bars and yogurt, which were both 18% higher and grain bars, which were 14% higher. (See graph at end of story.)

10% growth in meat snack sales 

And the company will have been pleased to see a 10% surge in meat snack sales during the summer, having this year acquired ethical meat snacks brand Epic Provisions.

General Mills said snacks growth was partly fueled by consumers hitting the road during the summer, and stopping at convenience stores to refuel and stock up on snacks for the journey.

iStock_78078955_SMALL (2)

If nothing else, retailers need to take stock of their snack selection and optimize shelf space for the top summer categories - which may surprise them​,” said Kelly Kees, global consumer insights researcher at General Mills Convenience and Foodservice.

High-traffic areas

Summer is all about snacking and there are certain snacks c-stores will want front and center in the high-traffic areas of their store​,” she added.

Popular snack categories should be supported with promotions and in-store marketing activity around the summer months to drive sales, added General Mills.

With lower gas prices, retailers can take advantage of the increase in disposable income by co-promoting the best-performing summer products alongside average ones, such as promoting nutrition bars with soft drinks.

This will help to encourage an increased basket size, while taking advantage of the seasonal increase in traffic. Citing NPD Crest data, General Mills found c-store foot traffic could be as much as 9% higher in summer months than other times of year (see graph).

c-store foor traffic

Snack manufacturers can also utilize summer seasonality, Kees told BakeryandSnacks: “They can design assortment, merchandising and innovation recommendations that highlight key seasonal categories and items that shoppers want and expect during the summer months​.”

Categories left in the cold

On the flipside of the summer snacking boom, General Mills’ research also highlighted categories that see a drop-off in sales during the summer, such as soup (down 31% versus the rest of the year), and suggested giving these less room on shelf at these times.

It is our hope that retailers will use this information to take stock of their snack selection and prioritize products that are bigger sellers in the summer months​,” added Kees.

Consumers are the cornerstone of any successful c-store business and, through our Consumer Insights’ teams’ proprietary research, we strive to give retailers the opportunity to better understand the mindset of today’s c-store shoppers and the implications for their business​.”

(May – Aug non-promoted dollar sales indexed to remaining year). * Refers to Salty Snacks delivered via the c-store’s warehouse (not handled via direct store delivery)

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