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    C-stores Gaining Share in the Snacks Category

    Greg Jones provides highlights of salty/alternative snacks at AWMA Outlook Forum.

    Photo by Bob Gatty

    CHICAGO -- The $20 billion of retail sales in the snacks category is moving from food/mass to convenience stores. In 2011, c-store growth percentages almost doubled those of other channels, Greg Jones, consulting partner of b2b Solutions LLC, said during the AWMA C-Metrics Convenience Industry Outlook Forum.

    The top salty/alternative snack trends include grazing occasions replacing dayparts; new products combining salty and sweet flavors; healthy snacking; and bifurcation or the splitting of shopper spending, he said.

    There were a total of 2,597 new product introductions in 2011, including 287 crackers; 461 nuts and seeds; 382 potato chips; 357 cereal bars; 114 popcorn products; and 998 other items. The most popular snack time is 2 p.m., and there is an opportunity for related sales with grazing. New salty snack profiles feature more international flavor profiles, Jones noted.

    Total c-store salty snack sales increased 24 percent over the last five years. Margins have grown 35 percent. Gross profit dollars were up 9 percent, yet overall growth was held down by direct-store delivery (DSD) products (C-Metrics only tracks warehouse-delivered products).

    Alternative snacks have increased 20 percent over the last five years, with dollar margins growing by 25 percent. This category generated the fifth highest gross profit.

    In looking at category performance for salty snacks, sales were up 10 percent, totaling $524 million. All subcategories were growing. Nuts, seeds and crackers represent 44 percent of salty snack category warehouse-delivered snack growth, which exceeds total industry snack growth.

    Potato chips are the second highest salty snack category, growing 6 percent, with expected growth of 8.7 percent in 2012 vs. 2011. This category contributes 11 percent of total growth dollars.

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