Health and wellbeing continue to be industry buzzwords – but the trends haven’t stopped US consumers splashing out almost $500m more on salty snacks in the first half of 2016 than they did a year ago.
Overall dollar sales of the salty snacks market have risen 4% year on year, according to IRI data for the year to July 10, with strong growth in categories including corn-based snacks and potato chips.
And, once again, ready-to-eat popcorn is a star performer – sales rose by a fifth as shoppers increased their spend in the category by $107m versus the first six months of 2015.
Overall sales of the Smartfood brand, part of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay business, have grown 45% - or $64.9m – year on year. This has been fueled by a 40% rise in the core range, while lower-fat Smartfood Delight has grown more than 80%.
PepsiCo: 'Just getting started in premium snacks'
After such a performance, the recent claim by PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi that the business was “just getting started” in premium snacks is likely to have shaken some of its rivals.
“We have solidified our position in salty snacks and started to step out of the core into other savory snacks, and will then start to take on other snacking occasions from the overall macro snacking category,” she added when the business announced its second-quarter results last month.
Second-placed Skinnypop has also had a great start to the year – with sales up by $28m – while owner Amplify Snack Brands this month announced it was spending $390m on UK-based premium potato chip and snacks business Tyrrells.
Skinnypop gains route into Europe
As well as giving the business a route to take Skinnypop into Europe, it will take Amplify into the potato chip market, which is benefiting from demand for premium-positioned snacks.
Of the top 10 best-selling chip brands, seven are in year on year value growth.
Two Lays ranges are among the three in decline, but the fall in sales of Bakes Lays and Wavy Lays has been more than offset by $32m growth in the core Lays chips.
Sales of Snyder’s-Lance owned Cape Cod are up by $8m year on year after a successful repositioning of the brand in 2014.
And the company is now hoping it can work the same magic on the pretzels category, where value sales have fallen 2.5% on a 3% decline in unit sales.
Pretzels facing headwinds
"The pretzel category has been facing headwinds and this has impacted performance, but renovation is delivering the early results we expected and we moved back to gaining market share in the second quarter,” said president and chief executive officer Carl E Lee of the Snyder’s of Hanover brand recently.
“We saw sales increase across leading SKUs, and consumption trends have rebounded,” he added as the business reported its second-quarter financial results. “We still have work ahead of us but early results are very encouraging.”
One category showing little need for renovation is tortilla/tostada chips, which grew by almost $120m year on year in the first six months of 2016 as the majority of top 10 brands grew value and unit sales.