Crisps and nuts

There has been a sharp rise in sales of snacking seeds and nuts

Thrifty bagged snacks fans could be better off shelling out for nuts rather than crisps at the moment.

For, while the average volume price of crisps and other potato or maize-based snacks is almost 9% higher than it was a year ago, the price of savoury snacking nuts such as salted peanuts has fallen more than 4%.

Looking at crisps alone, the average volume price (per kg) has been £10.70 over the four weeks ending 13 September 2013 - up 9.1% on the same period 12 months ago. Potato prices were pushed up by the havoc wreaked on last season’s potato crop by the wet weather, with one bagged snacks supplier saying the free-market cost of potatoes was as much as 200% higher than the contract price. This season has got off to a much better start, which should ease the pressure on producers.

While crisp munchers are having to dig deeper this year, nuts fans are paying less than a year ago

While price hikes have been seen across the crisps and potato snacks category, the prices of some packaging formats - particularly the largest multipacks - have risen more than others.

On average, the price of multipacks containing more than 12 bags of crisps - which are typically own-label lines - have soared 20.9% year on year from £1.58 to £1.91. In contrast, 12-bag packs have risen just 3.2%, although the fact many of these are branded means the average price is still higher than the larger packs, at £2.44.

The average price of budget own-label 12-packs has risen just a penny over the period, from 59p to 60p, but own label has not typically been so successful at keeping a lid on cost increases - with the average volume price of an own-label bagged snack up 15% year on year to £6.27.

The increase in the price of the popular six-bag multipack format has been closer to the market average, up 6.8% to £1.66, with the volume price rising by a similar amount, to £10.86 a kilo. Larger individual bags of crisps for sharing - often more premium products - have been harder hit, and in the case of branded products have risen 11% on average to £11.84.

But while crisp munchers are having to dig deeper this year, nuts fans are paying less than a year ago - thanks in part to an excellent American peanut harvest last year, which has pushed down the cost of US peanuts from more than $3,200/t in January 2012 to about $1,400/t today.

This has helped to drive the volume price of savoury nuts down 4.3% year on year to an average of £9.89 over the past four weeks, compared with £10.33 in the same period last year. Over the period, branded nuts have fallen 4.5% to £10.29, while own label has dropped 3.7% to £8.86.

A steep decline has been recorded in the price of a 200g bag of budget own-label peanuts, which has plunged 17.4% year on year from 63p to 52p.