The nation's lust for chewy meat has helped sales of meat snacks to boom over the past year.

Figures from TNS reveal that sales of meat snacks are up 24.3% in value and 34.9% in volume, as the category wins over consumers looking for an alternative to crisps and other savoury snacks. Unilever's Peperami led the charge with a 7.7% sales uplift to £43m in the past year [Nielsen 52w/e 3 October] and number two brand Mattessons' Fridge Raiders showed an even more impressive 42% growth, to £21.4m.

Shoppers were seeing meat snacks as a more interesting and low-fat alternative to other on-the-go snacks, said Fridge Raiders' marketing manager Anthony Wilkinson.

"There are so many different formats and flavours of crisps, nuts and other savoury snacks that people are looking for something that's a bit different but still satisfying and full of flavour. This is where meat snacks deliver," said Wilkinson, adding that the brand's £4m Bring Out Your Carnivorous Side media campaign over the year had been a key sales driver.

The salami and chicken snack categories which include Peperami and Fridge Raiders account for 77.7% of the meat snacks market and are growing 13.9% and 21.5% in value respectively [TNS 52w/e 6 September]. Peperami sales were being driven by retailers merchandising the product with crisps and snacks rather than other meat products, said Mike Miller, sales and category controller at Unilever. "These are impulse products and need to be placed with impulse foods," he said. Miller also revealed that the jerky category which has grown in volume by 29.4% was an area of interest for Peperami.

The profile of jerky had been raised thanks to its low fat content, said Michael Ollerup, European managing director of Jack Link's jerky brand. "Consumers are shifting from less healthy, fatty products such as crisps and tortillas and into jerky. We anticipate further listings in the UK next year because of this growth."

Sales of packaged chorizo also shot up 82.9% in value.

Focus on Pies & Meat Snacks