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Brave plans to launch bigger formats as demand for bulk packs has soared

Healthy snacking brands have seen online bulk sales soar as the coronavirus pandemic led to an increased focus on health among consumers.

Brands producing “better-for-you” snacking options have reported record level sales of bulk packages, partly offsetting the loss of all foodservice business and the marked reduction experienced in impulse snacking sales as shoppers’ behaviour changed under lockdown.

After seeing about 25% of its monthly revenues disappear overnight, Olly’s Olives used the excess stock to ramp up online sales and launch its new nut products in bulk format, which had originally been selling to the on-trade.

“It seems to have been a blessing in disguise,” said founder Olly Hiscocks.

“The response to these new products has been phenomenal and we have seen our e-commerce monthly revenues increase by 750%.”

Similarly, Brave Foods said most of its online sales growth came from bulk buying by the case, which had increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic.

As a result, Brave was planning the launch of larger formats to accommodate shoppers’ needs, co-founder Amber Fraser told The Grocer.

Bulk selling, however, reduced margins, said Ember Snacks founder Harry Mayhew.

“Selling through more bulk SKUs as people stock up does mean we have sold a higher proportion of lower-margin products,” he added. “This really affects profit ratio as well.” 

Despite online sales growth and bulk selling, healthy snacking brands have suffered from the loss of impulse buying as shoppers choose to make fewer trips to the supermarket and plan their shopping in advance.

Ben Arbib, founder of Nurture Brands – including Emily, Ape Snacks, Rebel Kitchen and Primal Pantry – said the pandemic had made a “major impact” on the business’ impulse healthy snacking SKUs.

“A lot of our impulse volume was linked to the out-of-home and food-to-go channels, so in some cases our volumes are down 50% from the levels they should be,” he said.

“But this crisis has alerted more people to the importance of a healthy immune system, which in turn is closely linked to a heathy diet. So, in the longer term I am sure it will drive more people into the better-for-you world of healthy snacking.”