Despite suffering from both falling numbers of users and a slight drop in volume sales, value sales within the crisps, nuts and salty snacks market continued their upward trend in 2011. The combined total value of the market in 2011 stood at £3.18 billion, with crisps and salty snacks representing around 90 per cent of this total.
Potato chips and crisps are the largest segment within the market, with value sales of £1.3 billion which equates to a share of 42 per cent of the total market. Despite a decline in sales of the largest brand in the market, the majority of other brands posted robust growth in 2011 while premium and retro crisps also continued their upward trend.
The different types of salty snacks, which account for 47 per cent of the total market, enjoyed mixed fortunes in 2011. While sales of potato based snacks were largely flat, corn-based snacks (eg tortilla chips) and popcorn were standout performers in generating robust sales growth over the previous year. The nuts segment, which saw sales rise to £345 million, continues to be dominated by own-labels, with growth supported by KP and smaller operators.
“Potato and corn based crisp brands are likely to continue to capture the largest proportion of sales in the market, but an increasing share of growth may derive from up-and-coming categories like tortilla chips and popcorn which provide the consumer with something a bit different,” says Chris Wisson, senior food analyst at Mintel.
Mintel expects growth in both the crisps and salty snacks and nuts segments in the coming years. Growth of just under 30 per cent since 2006 has seen the crisps and salty snacks market reach estimated sales of £2.8 billion in 2011, forecast to reach £3.8 billion by 2016. Growth in the nuts market has been more subdued over the same period, although it still achieved a 16 per cent increase in sales to reach an estimated £345 million in 2011, and forecast to reach £388 million by 2016.
The expected continuation of consumer trends for staying in, snacking with others via sharing bags and the desire for affordable treats all mean that growth for both nuts and crisps and salty snacks looks likely to continue in the coming years, despite threats to both markets such as financial pressures on households, the government’s promotion of healthy eating and an ageing population.
Crisps and salty snacks continue to be popular among consumers, eaten by over eight in ten (84 per cent) adults. Low-fat crisps continue to struggle to appeal to a wide range of consumers, eaten by just 18 per cent as their most commonly eaten variant, while the share of users most typically eating regular options increased slightly in 2011 to 71 per cent. Despite many consumers’ budgets coming under pressure, an increasing number are trading up into premium-oriented crisps as they look to enjoy affordable comfort foods. Usage of nuts has also fallen slightly since 2009, down to 54 per cent in 2011. Less healthy options are holding up the segment with a marginal increase in usage of salted and dry roasted nuts since 2009. Tortilla chips and popcorn made great strides in 2011, notably increasing their proportion of usage to 47 per cent and 39 per cent respectively. Tortilla chips have also seen an upturn in usage as their fun image has developed while popcorn has benefited from NPD and the entry of well-known brands such as Tyrrells into the segment. Roasted nuts are the second most popular salty snack, eaten by over half of consumers while unroasted nuts trail behind with less than a third of users.
Price is the main consideration when choosing crisps, identified as a top five factor by seven in ten consumers who eat crisps, salty snacks or nuts. Special offers meanwhile are a main factor for just 48 per cent. Favourite flavour is also a core consideration for 65 per cent who identify it as a top five choice factor, with a particular preference among over-55s. Consumers appear to be sticking to the flavours that they know with only eight per cent interested in new flavours as a key factor. Brand trust is also important for the majority of consumers, with over-55s and lower income groups in particular identifying trusted brands as a strong motivation behind their choice of purchase. Over-55s also show the clearest signs that smaller, single bags are enjoying popularity with this group, alongside women, also the most likely users to take an interest in healthier options.