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    Category Snapshot: Alternative Snacks

    Nielsen data shows protein bars are experiencing biggest sales gain.

    By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News
    Source: Nielsen

    NATIONAL REPORT — Alternative snacks are growing more profitable for convenience stores in the United States, with dollar sales increasing 7.1 percent over the 52 weeks that ended Feb. 13, 2016, according to new data and analysis provided to Convenience Store News by Nielsen.

    Unit sales are also on the rise, but at a slower pace, indicating that despite growing demand, prices are growing at a faster rate in the convenience channel, the global research company noted. 

    Growth in alternative snack sales is being seen across all regions of the country. Both sales and units, though, are growing the fastest in the Northeast.

    Within the alternative snacks category, protein bars are experiencing the biggest sales gain, at an increase of more than 11 percent during the 52 weeks ended Feb. 13. Protein is a valued attribute at the moment, as 23 percent of consumers in North America say they are willing to pay a premium for high-protein products, Nielsen cited.

    Another alternative-snack type known for its high protein, meat snacks, continues to reign supreme in terms of category share. Meat snacks account for 60 percent of all alternative snack sales in c-stores across the U.S. However, unit sales of meat snacks have slightly declined in the Midwest and South, by 0.9 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, during the 52-week period analyzed. 

    Granola/yogurt bars make up only a small portion of the alternative snacks category at 4.6 percent, but they saw a marked increase at independent c-stores, up 11.7 percent over the 52 weeks, Nielsen highlighted. Chain c-stores saw an increase as well, but only of 4.3 percent.

    Independent c-stores are also seeing a higher sales increase in meat snacks over chain c-stores.

    By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News
    • About Angela Hanson Angela Hanson is associate editor for EnsembleIQ's Convenience Store News, where she is responsible for primary coverage of the candy, snacks and packaged beverages categories. Since joining CSNews as assistant editor in early 2011, she has played a key role in helping CSNews.com maintain its position as the No. 1 news source for the convenience store industry. Prior to joining CSNews, Hanson served as junior editor at Creative Homeowner book press and as managing editor of Anime Insider magazine. She has degrees in creative writing and visual communication technology from Bowling Green State University.

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