Growing consumer awareness of the health credentials of nuts has boosted sales and resulted in speedy growth of the sector

Nuts, the smallest sector of the total category, is also the fastest growing. Sales have been boosted, as per tradition, by a strong Christmas performance as well as a growing awareness of the healthier aspects of nuts.
Valued at £201m, sales of nuts jumped a healthy 11.6% year-on-year [TNS 52 w/e February 27, 2005] and the category now accounts for 15.4% of the total market.
PepsiCo launched Nobby’s Nuts in March to go head to head with United Biscuits’ KP Nuts brand.
Two traditional flavours, Classic Salt and Dry Roast, in 50g bags, have been launched, as well as coated nuts Sweet Chilli and Smoked Bacon in 40g single-serve bags and 140g bags for sharing.
The newcomer is aimed at encouraging men to make more impulse purchases in the nuts category.
On the other hand, KP has been targeting healthy snackers with its recently launched range of fruit and yoghurt mixes.
But, despite the positive figures and the apparent movement within the market, not all in the industry have been impressed with manufacturers’ efforts during the past year and many believe sales of nuts are too reliant on Christmas.
“Nuts are not just for Christmas, but there hasn’t been much happening here. The mainstream manufacturers are not doing anything very exciting to grow the opportunity,” says Heidi Jackson, trading manager at Musgrave Budgens-Londis. “Healthier nut snack products, though, are doing well in Budgens.”
There is also additional growth potential from elsewhere in the market, according to PepsiCo. “Nuts are continuing to grow in both impulse and grocery channels. However, there is a huge opportunity in impulse to drive consumption of small bags of nuts, especially for eat-now occasions,” says trade marketing manager Nicky Seal.
“Within wholesale there is an opportunity to drive sales of nuts to retail customers, as nuts are only bought by a third of retailers that buy crisps.”
United Biscuits introduced new price-marked packs of its KP Nuts brand to help independent retailers capitalise on the increasing consumer trend towards impulse snacking on the move.
Specialist nut producer Dormen Foods is also hoping to bring something fresh and exciting to the premium British snack market with the launch of a luxury mixed nut selection which hit shelves in January. The company is including health-benefit details on all its packaging and is planning to launch low-level salt products within the next 12 months.
According to Dormen Foods, another new trend is the increasing popularity of speciality nuts such as cashews and macadamia nuts. Like-for-like sales of Dormen’s Cashews and Smoked Almonds have grown by 20% from September 2004 to January 2005, according to director Michael Brooks.