If you’re keen to stock some healthier snacks in your store as an alternative to the traditional fat-laden favourites, then you’re in luck as more and more suppliers are launching into the market. And unlike in the past, these better-for-you snacks taste good too.

Take Yushoi Snapea rice sticks as an example. Sarah Brown, senior brand manager at brand owner Calbee UK, explains: "We know from our own research that although there is a trend which suggests health to be a major driver when encouraging the purchase of snacks, taste is just as important when it comes to the final choices that a consumer will make.

"When we developed Yushoi Snapea rice sticks, we worked hard to create an innovative snack that provides a great tasting alternative to products such as fried crisps that are typically high in salt, sugar and fat. We didn’t want consumers to have to compromise when choosing our snacks, which has often been the case with better-for-you products in the past.

"We know that there is a demand for healthier options and that it will continue to rise, therefore it is essential that forecourts ensure that they cater for this trend by stocking products that meet with both need states; great taste and better for you."

Yushoi Snapea rice sticks are available in four flavours: Lightly Salted, Soy & Balsamic Vinegar, Smoked Salt & Szechuan Pepper and Sweet Chilli & Lemon. Made from green peas, the rice sticks are high in fibre and a good source of protein, to keep consumers fuller for longer. They contain no artificial colours or flavours, are suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and are nut free. And they contain 96 calories or less per 21g serving.

Brown advises that if you don’t have space for a ’better-for-you’ fixture then products like Yushoi Snapea should be highlighted through marketing material such as shelf wobblers, counter display cartons or dump bins. "In addition, placing the snacks close to complementary better-for-you products such as sugar-free and low-calorie drinks will capture the attention of shoppers," she says.

The launch of Yushoi Snapea rice sticks was supported by Olympic gymnast Louis Smith MBE. He is fronting a campaign to encourage people to ’Enjoi Yushoi’, which includes sampling, PR and social media.

Meanwhile popcorn has been a massive success story in snacking, particularly as many consumers perceive it to be better for them than traditional crisps.

British entrepreneur and founder of Chase Distillery, Will Chase, has just re-entered the food market with a new range of air-popped popcorn made on his farm. For the venture, he has built Willy’s Popcorn Factory on the farm in Herefordshire, including a kitchen for creating seasonings from scratch, plus he has increased corn production on the farm to supply it. "I want to produce real fit food championing local, fresh and seasonal avoiding fryers, unnecessary ingredients, mass produced foods and twee stories," he says. "People, including me, just don’t want unhealthy nibbles any more," he adds.

The launch of the Willy Chase’s Fit Corn marks the start of the new Willy Chase’s Fit Food venture. The popcorn is initially available in six flavours: Goats Cheese, Red Onion & Thyme; Salted Honey; Smoky Bloody Mary; Cacao & Coconut; Nearly Naked; and Cider Vinegar with The Mother. All are naturally gluten free, and they feature Chase’s favourite ingredients and nature’s super foods as seasonings to create flavours designed to appeal to grown-up tastes.

Twist & Taste

If you’re looking for a healthy snack range that will really get noticed in-store, then you should consider Cranberry’s Twist & Taste dispenser system.

The single-use, self-dosing system is easy to use plus it is hygienic. And the secure, closed dispenser means all servings are fresh. The first time the nuts or fruit are touched is when the consumer eats them. Once emptied, a dispenser is simply removed, recycled and replaced. This lowers any contamination risk and removes the need for cleaning.

Trevor Stroud, enterprise director at Cranberry, says the new snack system is helping to create a real point of difference in the market for retailers who want to give their customers a distinctive and healthy indulgence. "We are actively looking to grow our market share and, to date, the range is very much performing to expectations," he says.

The Cranberry system is currently installed in a forecourt at Gatwick airport. Stroud says this is a pilot scheme, ahead of them rolling it out across other sites. "By using Cranberry’s self-serve dispensers, the forecourt has been able to create a real point of difference as customers can create their own unique flavours and combinations. Perhaps most significantly, the forecourt has increased its orders by 40% under the Twist & Taste banner. This very much reaffirms the consumer demand for fresh-tasting and healthy grab-and-go options."

The best sellers at the site are Honey Cashews and Smokey Almonds & Corn.

The equipment is provided free on loan, subject to a minimum purchase. It can be adapted to fit a forecourt’s requirements. Each unit can hold up to 48 different dispenser items and you can choose between cups or bags.

When it comes to healthier snacks that have been around a while, Graze continues to enjoy great success, so much so that is launching six resealable four-portion sharing packs which will be available both online and to retailers. The six lines are: Dark Chocolate Cherry Tart (dark chocolate buttons, dried whole cherries and cranberries); Punchy Protein Nuts (chilli & lime cashews, almonds and pecans); Veggie Protein Power (black pepper cashews, edamame beans and spicy chickpeas); Smokehouse BBQ Crunch (BBQ peas, corn chips and jumbo chilli corn); Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie (St Ives Cornish vanilla fudge with mini chocolate cookies, redskin and salted peanuts); and Tomato & Basil Crostini (Italian tomato breadsticks and basil crunchini with cheese-flavoured cashews), which is new to the Graze range. Rrp is £2.99.

The launch follows insight which found that Graze consumers were typically purchasing two punnets at a time rather than one, with an average basket size of 1.7 punnets in supermarkets.

Meanwhile, Natural Balance Foods reports that in the convenience channel both its Na-kd and Trek brands are performing well. Marketing manager at the company, Marina Love, says that’s because they cater to the full spectrum of different consumer need states, from the desire for an alternative to sweets in the form of Na-kd Nibbles, to the need for an energy boost from Trek protein bars.

"Na-kd has grown a staggering 179% since 2014 to be worth £6.2m in the convenience channel and in the past year alone sales have grown 50% year-on-year (Nielsen data). This performance makes Na-kd the second-fastest growing brand in the category year-on-year (Trek is number one) adding £2m at a time when many top brands have seen a sales decline.

"For instance, Kellogg’s Special K, Alpen and Go Ahead bars all saw sales decline and these are products sold on a better-for-you platform. Trek’s sales through the convenience channel have soared by 113%."

The aforementioned Na-kd Nibbles are a blend of fruit and nuts ’smooshed’ together. They come in 40g impulse packs in seven flavours: Coconut Bliss, Toffee Treat, Tooty Fruity, Mint Humbug, Salted Caramel, Strawberries & Cream and Fruit Salad.

Andy Lewis, marketing manager for Snacking Essentials, says the sugar debate is driving consumers away from many of their usual confectionery snacks towards the healthier choices on offer.

"Natural snacks such as nuts, seeds, grains and fruits are increasingly seen by retailers to better meet consumer needs. As a result, greater levels of shelf space are being dedicated to natural snacking options, with these natural snacks increasingly being merchandised in prominent locations in the store, particularly at tills," he says.

And Lewis believes healthier treats don’t have to be boring: "Our extensive range of nut, seed and dried fruit mixes offers something for everyone with a wide variety of natural snacking options and touches of indulgence across the range, such as chocolate-coated raisins, rich yogurt-coated peanuts and salted cashews.

Kettle campaign

Kettle Foods is currently supporting its Kettle Bites range with a £1.5m campaign, which aims to educate its target consumers that the wholegrain and lentil snacks are a lighter eat for everyday snacking.

Print advertising is running in women’s weeklies and monthly magazines as well as in London titles and on poster sites at London train stations.

In addition, digital display advertising is being used to target consumers throughout the day, when they are browsing the web and starting to feel a little peckish, on a host of high-traffic sites such as dailymail.co.uk, bbcgoodfood.com and mumsnet.com. The ads highlight the brand’s key attributes of great flavour combined with less than 100 calories.

And over 50,000 samples are being distributed to consumers, targeting those looking for something lighter when snacking but who don’t want to compromise at all on taste.

Retailer view

"We are a transient site so we are very much set up for the ’grab and go’ customer. We offer a good mixture of snacks so there is something for everyone. The Eat Natural and Nature Valley bars sell well.
"We recently started selling Propercorn in three varieties and it’s going alright. It might seem expensive but we only sell grab bags of crisps at 90p so at 69p a packet, the Propercorn is cheaper.
"We have tried selling fruit but it didn’t do very well. However, we are due for a refit and I am hoping that we’ll then be able to offer pots of mixed fruit."

brookfield’s Fitness focus

Ridwan Patel, operations manager at The Brookfield Group, has a background in the health and fitness industry, indeed he is a fully qualified fitness trainer and still runs spinning and body pump classes in his spare time.
He’s a fan of USN Nutrition supplements and introduced them and other ’health’ products into the Brookfield business.
"We trialled the products in one of our CTNs and now they are sold in four of our forecourt stores. By the end of this month, they will be available in all 10 forecourt stores. People are more health conscious than ever which is why I thought it was important to offers these types of products."
Lines stocked include protein shakes, bars and flapjacks. Ridwan says the Oaten bars are the best-selling flapjacks while in milkshakes, the Delamere and Fit brands sell best.
"These are great for people who are on the go. Perhaps they haven’t had time for breakfast so they pick up a protein bar or shake instead. And they don’t just appeal to people who go to the gym, they’re bought by people who want to improve their all-round health."
A big reason why the USN Nutrition supplements are so popular is that Brookfield sells them at a very competive price when compared to high street retailers.