Sharing packs offer forecourt retailers a great sales opportunity, according to PepsiCo convenience director Mat Cooke. "In forecourts, the crisps and snacks category is worth £44.8m (Litmus total forecourt data) and sharing packs account for 12% of these sales. "Consumers increasingly view forecourt stores as a convenience outlet to do a top-up shop or to make purchases for their evening meal. Sharing bags are the perfect pack size for these shopping missions and our in-store trials have proven that by stocking snacks with beers and wine, retailers can generate a 48% uplift in sales."

Ivan Cross, snacks market strategy and planning director at KP Snacks, says the trend for consumers seeking cheaper ways to socialise and therefore having nights in with friends and family has been a boon for the sharing snacks sector. There was certainly lots to celebrate during the summer with the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 but Cross says there are more reasons to come: "As the nights draw in and the holiday season is near, consumers will continue to get together to enjoy social occasions such as girls night in, evening football matches and most importantly, festive parties, with family and friends, all of which present a great sales opportunity."

However, he adds that nights in with friends are not just about sharing bags. "The multipack snack market is worth £1.1bn to retailers and is growing by 5% (AC Nielsen total market). Consumers are realising the value multipacks represent, as well as allowing them to cater for everyone’s tastes."

Research by Nielsen reveals that almost 70% of sharing bags of crisps and snacks sold through independents weigh less than 130g, while other research by Him found that price-marked packs are one of the top promotional mechanics favoured by retailers.

Kettle Foods has responded to these findings with its range of smaller price-marked sharing bags specifically for the independent stores, including forecourts. The ’Little big bags’ provide 100g in the top-selling Kettle flavours including lightly salted, sea salt & balsamic vinegar, and mature Cheddar & red onion. They are all price-marked at £1.29.

Both KP Snacks and Pepsico offer price-marked sharing packs too. KP’s include McCoy’s flame-grilled steak and Big Hoops BBQ beef for the impulse market, both priced at £1. Meanwhile, Pepsico has a 12-strong range of £1 price-marked bags which include Doritos, Quavers and Walkers Crisps.

Snacks for on-the-go is another key shopper mission in forecourts. Pepsico’s research has found that by placing crisps and snacks in high-traffic areas, close to other impulse products like sandwiches, forecourt retailers can generate a 24% uplift in sales. Cooke explains: "Ideally, single serves should be no more than six feet away from the till point to capture the 43% of shoppers who purchase crisps and snacks without visiting the main fixture (Convenience Tracking Programme)".

Cooke says Pepsico is "driving the on-the-go opportunity with exciting NPD". Deep Ridged, the new Walkers crisp has achieved sales of £17m in just 11 weeks (Nielsen).

Savour the flavour

New flavours are the lifeblood of many food categories, none more so than crisps and snacks. Kettle Chips has brought back old favourites sea salt, rosemary & garlic and blue Stilton & port for a limited period. Their return was voted for by fans on the brand’s Facebook site.

Kettle Foods’ marketing director, Andrew Slamin, says: "Consumers regularly ask us to reintroduce their favourite flavours from the past and there are even Facebook groups dedicated to bringing some back."

Finally, Pringles has a new salt & pepper variety.

Pringles’ marketing manager Fiachra Moloney says: "While the core four Pringles SKUs (original, salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion and Texas BBQ) remain vitally important best sellers, our extended flavour range presents a huge opportunity to retailers. Past launches have resulted in average incremental sales increases of up to 50%."

High-profile TV sponsorship will highlight the extended range over the coming months.

Retailer view

Edward White, Spar Calver, Hope Valley, Derbyshire:
"We do well on crisps and snacks Walkers and Doritos are our best sellers. Pringles are a strong seller too and they are often on promotion.
"Sharing bags are popular but so too are multipacks.
"I know there are a lot of price-marked crisps but we don’t carry any price-marked packs on anything if we can help it.
"We do some secondary siting. For example, we have a promotional stand near the till which is good for impulse sales, especially for new products."

Top 10 crisps and snacks in forecourts

1Walkers Crisps cheese & onion grab bag 50g
2Walkers Crisps ready salted grab bag 50g
3Quavers cheese maxi 34g
4Squares salt & vinegar 40g
5Walkers Crisps salt & vinegar grab bag 50g
6Walkers Crisps prawn cocktail grab bag 50g
7Hula Hoops BBQ beef 50g
8McCoys flame grilled steak 50g
9Discos salt & vinegar 56g
10McCoys salt & malt vinegar crisps 50g
Source: Litmus total forecourt rate of sale, 12 weeks to September 30

Beefy bites

At till points in forecourt stores across the US you’ll find beef jerky. Although it’s been available here for years, it doesn’t have the following it does across the pond. However, Shane Angus, brand manager at Euro Food Brands, distributor of Jack Link’s jerky, says beef jerky is definitely growing in popularity over here.
"According to our sales data, year-on-year sales for Jack Link’s are growing steadily at 29% and we believe this is because consumers are looking for new snacks and flavours to try. Jack Link’s products are naturally high in protein and low in calories making them the perfect snack for health-conscious consumers looking for something a bit different to traditional snacks that can often be high in calories and fat."
Jack Link’s beef jerky is made using prime rump beef cut into thin strips. These are then seasoned, cooked and slowly dried. The current range comprises: beef jerky (original and sweet & hot); beef steak bites (original and teriyaki); and Chicken Bites (flamin’ buffalo style and curry). All are available in 25g (rrp up to £1.99) and 75g pack sizes (rrp up to £3.99) and all have a shelf life of around 12 months.
Angus says the brand has ’healthy distribution’ in forecourts including Welcome Break and Esso sites.
A display box is available as well as a selection of clip strips so the products can be multi-sited to encourage impulse purchases. "The clip strips are perfect for positioning next to soft drinks and alcohol," says Angus. "Our priority is to reinforce Jack Link’s as a high-end brand. We will work closely with forecourts to lead the development of the category through competitive pricing, excellent margins and strong marketing activity."