Pop Works

Heaviest hit has been Pop Works & Company: launched just 18 months ago by PepsiCo it has all but vanished from leading supermarkets

After years of meteoric growth, the rise in value of popcorn has slowed markedly in the past 12 months, with a number of brands experiencing plummeting sales.

Take-home value sales of the so-called healthy bagged snack increased by 4.1% to £104.2m in the 52 weeks to 28 January 2018 [Kantar Worldpanel], but the rise was slight compared with the 11% increase a year ago and the 25.4% surge in 2016.

The slowdown has been accompanied by supermarkets axing listed lines. While total popcorn volumes rose 2.1%, branded volume fell 2% [Kantar], with value sales of Tyrrells’ Poshcorn plunging 25% to £5.8m and combined sales of Sensations popcorn and Sunbites Wholegrain Popcorn - both from Walkers - down 28.7% to £3.7m [IRI 52 w/e 3 March 2018].

Heaviest hit has been Pop Works & Company. Launched just 18 months ago by PepsiCo as an ‘indulgent’ challenger to popcorn leader Butterkist, it has all but vanished from leading supermarkets.

Of the major mults, only Sainsbury’s continues to stock Pop Works, with just three SKUs on its shelves [Brand View w/e 25 April 2018]. Asda was the most recent to drop the brand, axing five SKUs at the end of last month, having begun delisting the range last autumn.

In the ‘indulgence’ space, it was likely consumers were choosing crisps or potato crisps over popcorn, said Simon Peacock, director in the consumer sector team at corporate finance firm Alantra. “I wouldn’t say the popcorn bubble has burst, but it’s certainly shrunk.”

Steve Seddon, director at Jimmy’s Pure Popcorn, accepted popcorn sales were slowing but insisted it had “a strong future in the snacking sector” if brands adapted to trends.