Sean McAllister
Britain’s health debate looks set to move up a gear with new figures showing that consumers are spending more money on crisps and bagged snacks than ever before as they switch to kingsize packs.
The findings reveal that sales of all crisps, nuts and bagged snacks rocketed past £1.3bn in the last year despite continued warnings from government and health groups over the nation’s obesity problem.
The revelation is likely to come as a serious blow to health campaigners who last month claimed that The Grocer’s report on a plummeting impulse snacking market was the first sign that consumers were becoming seriously health conscious. Then, figures showed that sales of key on-the-go lines
like crisps were down by as much as 11%.
But new figures from TNS Superpanel, which include packs over 60g, show that consumers, far from opting out of the salty snacking option, are
simply changing the way they buy those snacks.
The research reveals that sales of big bags of crisps and snacks - which include Walkers’ Doritos and Sensations, Pringles and Kettle Chips - have soared by 9.2% in the last year and now account for more than a quarter of all expenditure on crisps and snacks. Edward Garner, communications director for TNS Superpanel, said the trend was being repeated across all categories and was linked to the premiumisation of grocery.
Garner said consumers were upgrading their crisp experience to more exotic flavours which are represented by the big bag brands such as Walkers Sensations and Kettle Chips. “Sharing bags have become an adult indulgence,” he said.
The growth in adult indulgence will provide food for thought for the government, which is considering banning TV ads for ‘unhealthy snacks’ during kids’ programming.
Landmark trading controller Jon Burton said the demand for big bags was a well-recognised trend. “It’s driven by a growth in in-home eating and entertaining and, heading towards Euro 2004, we expect demand to grow even further,” he said.
Costcutter marketing manager, Martyn Basierak, said the symbol group was tapping into the trend: “We have focused on ‘Big Night In’ and the sharing aspect of big bags in store.We are trying to create a need by the dual-siting of snacking lines and licensed lines.”
TNS revealed that nuts - the smallest sector in the category - was the fastest growing of all the categories it surveyed, with sales up by 16% to £180m. This was explained in part by the influence of the Atkins diet which promotes consumption of the high protein, low-carb snack.