Demand for one of the largest categories in the grocery retail sector – crisps and snacks – is showing significant growth and is set to surge further, as the barbecue and picnic season kicks off. Donna Ahern reports.
Ireland is a crisp- and snack-loving nation, and recent research is showing that the category hasn’t felt much impact from the high levels of inflation that have been the bane of grocery shoppers throughout the country.
In fact, sales within the crisps and snacks category have spiked quite significantly in recent months.
That is because crisps and snacks is a category that is associated with social and fun occasions.
This means that there is a lot of growth potential – in terms of sharing packs and multipack offers – on which retailers and manufacturers can capitalise, as home entertaining, barbecues and picnics become more prevalent over the next few months.
Research conducted by NIQ on behalf of Checkout shows that, in the latest 52 weeks to 23 April 2023, the total crisps and snacks market (including tubes) was worth €372 million.
This is an 8.9% increase on the same period in 2022.
Sales units are up by 2.5% across the category, with volumes down by 2.8%.
“This suggests that consumers are trading down to the smaller impulse packs/formats, which would tie in with the fact that, over the latest 52 weeks, we have returned to society, post-Covid, with more people travelling to and from work locations and going on holidays,” says Mark Pearce, client executive, retailer services Ireland, NIQ.
The data indicates that, compared to the same period last year, crisps’ value sales showed a 5.2% increase, snacks are up by 11.2%, and tubes increased by 18.9%.
“Price inflation across the total category is running at 6.3%, with price per volume up by 12.1%,” says Pearce. “This suggests that shoppers are having to pay more for less.
“Of the €372 million, crisps account for 50.3% of the sales value, with snacks accounting for 37.3%, and tubes at 12.3%.”
According to NIQ, the impulse bag segment is showing positive 4.8% volume growth and 5.9% unit sales growth because we are comparing them to eight months of 2021, when Covid restrictions were in place, with fewer people out and about.
Volumes for the multipack and sharing bag formats have gone down by 6.2%, but value sales have gone up by 3.1% and 9.9%, respectively.
“Sharing bags [as a segment] is seeing price inflation of 8.7%, with multipacks only experiencing a 2.7% increase,” Pearce added.
Seeking Healthier Snacks
According to Robert Flavin, director, strategic planning with V360, Irish shoppers are frustrated by the choice of crisps and snacks in store.
Speaking with Checkout, Flavin says that Irish people’s consumption of crisps and snacks continues to evolve.
“More and more people are moving away from the traditional three square meals a day, especially amongst younger adults and families, who tend to eat more snacks and small meals throughout the day,” he says.
“This is driven by a long-term systemic change to Irish lifestyles, shaped by longer commutes, busy midweek activities, and at-home socialising, for some.
“For others, working from home – which accelerated during Covid-19 restrictions – has become normal, creating new at-home snack occasions throughout the course of the day and evening.
“At the same time, our appetite for healthier crisps and snacks that have less salt and fat content and are lower in calories shows little sign of abating.”
Flavin points out that as more and more of us are actively seeking healthier snacks, the challenge, from a retailer’s perspective, is to help people find these options in store.
“As the category grows, with new offerings, ensuring that shoppers can see, find and buy new healthier crisps amongst the existing offerings needs a rethink, from a category management perspective, to capture this opportunity for growth.”
While the management of the category in store may require a rethink on the part of retailers, there is also huge potential for new-product development (NPD) within crisps and snacks.
In 2021, for example, Tayto Occasions Corn Straws were launched to tap into the growing spicy-snack market. Limited editions have proven to be a great PR tool for the brand, while growing participation in the impulse pack format.
Last year saw the release of Tayto Hunky Dorys Pork Ribs Marinade and Applewood Smoked Cheddar & Jalapeño and, of course, Tayto Fizzy Cola, which generated huge news around the brand, particularly with the Gen Z audience.
It featured strongly across TikTok and other social-media platforms.
The growing diversity in consumer requirements presents an opportunity to develop the aisle further and increase shopper engagement.
Enhancing the aisle to reflect this, while simultaneously improving segmentation and signposting, is the key to getting and maintaining the shopper’s attention.
Number-One Crisp Brand
Tayto, Ireland’s number-one crisp and snack brand, retained the number-two position in the Checkout Top 100 Brands in 2022. As the market leader, Tayto consistently captures the nation’s hearts and tops the polls as the most-missed brand by Irish expats each year.
In fact, Tayto was named the most-missed food by Irish emigrants in 2022, according to the tenth annual Brand Preferences Amongst the Diaspora study, undertaken by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of Checkout magazine.
According to the data, almost half (48%) of the surveyed Irish grocery shoppers who have spent time living abroad said that they missed the iconic crisp brand ‘a lot’, while a further 30% said that they ‘missed it somewhat’.
When asked to choose the one brand that they missed the most when they lived away from home, Tayto came out on top – with almost three in ten (29%) choosing the crisp brand.
Top 100 Brands
Coming in fifth among the most popular categories in the Checkout Top 100 Brands in 2022 was Crisps/Snacks/Tubes, which means that the category has retained its fifth-place position from 2021, when it moved up one place in the category rankings, from sixth position in 2020.
There was no change to the top five brands in 2022, with Tayto, Pringles, Walkers, Doritos and O’Donnells retaining their positions from 2021. Market share for the top five brands fell slightly, from 76.6% in 2021 to 76.3% in 2022.