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Salty Snacks Sales Surge

By Donna Ahern
Salty Snacks Sales Surge

One of the largest categories in grocery retail, crisps and snacks sales have surged during the lockdown, writes Donna Ahern

According to recent research conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Checkout, the Irish salty snacks market experienced value sales of €264 million in the 52 weeks ending 5 April, which is an increase of 7.1% compared to the same period in 2019.

The market share is split equally, with multiples accounting for 49.6% of value sales, and convenience stores accounting for 50.4% of value sales in the latest 52 weeks.

Multiples’ (excluding Dunnes Stores) value sales have shown an 8.7% increase compared to the same time last year, with this growth accelerating by 19% over the last 12 weeks.

Value sales for symbol groups and forecourts have grown by 5.6% in the latest 52 weeks compared to last year, with this growth increasing by 8.1% in the 12 weeks ending 5 April.


Prompt a Purchase

With a large percentage of snacking occasions taking place in the home, tying in with key occasions or events can be very beneficial for brands in this category.

As crisps and snacks is one of the largest categories in grocery retail, in-store marketing is of crucial importance to brands within this segment. These campaigns can generate strong visibility in store, which can prompt a purchase, especially at this time of year.

In addition, now that the government has published its five-stage roadmap outlining how Ireland will exit from the current COVID-19 restrictions, households are looking ahead to a time in the not too distant future when they can entertain a limited number of guests at their summer get togethers.

Mixed Missions


From a shopper marketing perspective, retailers need to take account of two different shopper missions and, very often, different shoppers in the crisps and snacks category. For example, Nielsen points out that the number of shoppers looking for a quick snack to eat on-the-go has reduced by 0.9% over the past 12 weeks.

“As a result of Covid-19, on-the-go snacking has declined, with more people consuming at home,” says Nicole Farren, senior account manager, retailer service, Nielsen.

“This is reflected in the latest 12-week data, which shows that impulse crisps and snacks sales are in decline, while sharing bags’ value sales are up by 22% compared to last year.”

Shoppers in stockpiling mode were looking for snacks for their family to enjoy at home during the lockdown. How grocery retailers communicate with this ‘new’ shopper, therefore, needs to be markedly different to pre-Covid 19 marketing strategies, as shoppers now have different needs, and are engaging in different purchasing behaviours.

Crisps, snacks & tubes


Nielsen data reveals that value sales for the crisps, snacks & tubes segment of this category currently accounts for 79% of the salty snack market and increased by 7.6% in the latest 52 weeks compared to 2019.

Value sales growth of crisps/snacks/tubes has accelerated by 14% in the latest 12 weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within crisps/snacks/tubes, the biggest value growth in the latest 52 weeks can be seen in sharing bags, which are up by 12.3% year-on-year. This has accelerated by 22.3% in the latest 12 weeks.

Nuts and popcorn

After crisps/snacks/tubes, the biggest category is nuts, which posted value sales of of €34 million in the latest 52-week period, which is a 3.8% increase compared to the same period last year.


Nielsen’s research showed that value sales growth has increased by 11% in the latest 12 weeks. Within nuts, the strongest growth can be seen in chocolate covered nuts, with sales increasing by 27% to €2.4 million in the latest 52 weeks compared to last year.

The Irish popcorn market is worth €17.7 million, which is a 7.4% increase on the same period last year. This growth has accelerated by 14% in the latest 12 weeks.

Savoury Snacks (pretzels, Bombay mix, sesame sticks, etc) is a small market but one that is growing strongly – it experienced a 7.4% increase in the latest 52 weeks and is currently worth €3.7 million. Savoury snacks increased by 11% in the latest 12 weeks compared to the same period last year.


Tayto has been named the ‘most-missed’ food by Irish emigrants, according to the seventh annual ‘Brand Preferences among the Diaspora’ study, undertaken by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of Checkout magazine in December 2019.

According to the data, almost half (46%) of the Irish grocery shoppers that were surveyed, who have spent time living abroad, said that they missed the iconic crisp brand ‘a lot,’ while a further 27% said that they ‘missed it somewhat’.

When asked to choose the one brand they missed ‘most’ when they lived away from home, Tayto came out on top, with almost 3 in 10 (29%) choosing the crisp brand. This, of course, is further proof, if further proof were needed, that Ireland is a crisps and snacks loving nation.

© 2020 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. Click sign-up to subscribe to Checkout


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