It seems that consumers just can’t help themselves when it comes to crisps and snacks. Despite the health lobbyists’ best efforts, potato crisps, tortilla and corn snacks were consumed by 81.7% of UK adults last year, according to Key Note’s Snack Foods 2014 report.

These products are typically consumed two or three times a week but 10% of those surveyed by Key Note said they ate them once a day or more.

That explains then why the market is in such good health. Key Note says the crisps, nuts, popcorn and rice-based snacks market is currently worth £3.1bn but is set to hit nearly £4bn by 2018.

The research firm divides the market into potato crisps, snack nuts and ’other’ savoury snacks. And although ’other’ savoury snacks is the largest sub-category, no single product in this sector is as popular as potato crisps in the UK.

And Walkers is the undoubted king of the potato crisp, maintaining its position via seemingly non-stop new product development and marketing initiatives.

Its latest initiative for retailers is category management website Counts for More ( where you can receive personalised category advice and sales recommendations based on your current range and outlet type as well as rewards.

The site contains a series of quick online activities aimed at sharing best practice and helping you to make the most of your snack fixtures. Each time you visit the site, you will have the option to complete an activity which could be anything from watching a video to answering questions about the range you stock and in return you receive category management recommendations and rewards.

Matt Goddard, head of impulse field sales at PepsiCo comments: "We reward our members every time they engage in the activities and find out more about how to promote and display crisps, snacks and nuts to grow their sales. The more points they earn, the more they can spend on their business."

Rewards include a range of point-of-sale material such as dumpbins, racks, chiller baskets, counter-top units and Walkers stock.

Goddard adds: "This comes at a time when retailers are becoming increasingly digital savvy and are constantly looking for up-to-date online solutions and category advice. This year we will be working harder than ever to support independent retailers helping them to make their stores, sales, executions and promotions count for even more!"

Meanwhile, Walkers is rewarding consumers with its latest on-pack promotion, which offers half-price entry to 27 top attractions from Merlin Entertainments, including Legoland, Thorpe Park and Alton Towers. The promotion is running on all standard and grab bags with every pack including a voucher for half-price entry.

The latest launch from Walkers is Market Deli a premium range of pita, tortilla and classic potato chips that gets its flavour inspiration from authentic produce found in European markets and delis. As such, ingredients include mature Cheddar from Cornwall, aged Aceto Balsamico di Modena PGI and sundried tomatoes from the Manisa region in Turkey. Market Deli snacks are available in eight flavours in 165g sharing bags with a rrp of £2.39. These flavours include roasted red chilli with Mediterranean sundried tomato tortilla chips and roasted garlic with Mediterranean herbs pita chips. The potato chips are also available in single bags in mature Cornish Cheddar, balsamic vinegar of Modena and flame grilled Spanish chorizo with roasted onion varieties, all with a rrp of 83p.

Healthy and tasty

Finding a better-for-you snack that actually tastes good is often like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But KP Snacks believes it’s got it right with its relaunched Velvet Crunch range. And if it has, there’s plenty of sales to be had as the healthier snacks category is currently worth £145m and is the fastest-growing bagged snacks segment up 9.1% (Kantar data).

KP says new, improved Velvet Crunch hits the spot for adults who want "real snacking pleasure", while following a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. As part of the relaunch, there’s a new product: Gourmet Bites, air popped cassava bites have just 87 calories per pack and contain 60% less fat than standard potato crisps. They are available in three flavours; Thai chilli & aromatic sweet basil, mature Cheddar & onion and salt & rich balsamic vinegar. They come in 30g packs with a rrp of 59p.

Matt Collins, trading controller convenience at KP Snacks, says Velvet Crunch is a must-stock for retailers as it offers a fantastic incremental sales opportunity in the growing healthier snacks segment of the market.

Earlier in the year, Walkers launched Pops, described as "a new air-popped snack that is full on taste yet contains 50% less fat than standard potato crisps".

Kettle Baked Chips were also launched this year, aimed at health-conscious female consumers who are looking for a lighter, better-for-you snack without compromising on taste. They contain less than 100 calories and 70% less fat per 25g serving than standard ready salted crisps.

Made from the finest potatoes, these are sliced with the skins on and then oven baked to form a crispy chip. There are two variants sweet chilli and cream cheese & chive.

One snack that’s now perceived to be healthier than a lot of others on the market is popcorn and because of that it’s been a massive sales success. Once the preserve of the local multiplex, it has moved onto retail shelves where it’s been flying out the doors. According to Nielsen, popcorn is showing growth of more than 25% while Kantar figures reveal that nine million households now purchase ready-to-eat popcorn. And how flavours have evolved. No more is it a choice or just salty or sweet, in many cases it’s salty and sweet.

Walkers recently entered the market with Sensations in three flavours: Thai sweet chili, sweet cinnamon & salt and sweet Indian spices. The popcorn comes in 90g sharing bags, rrp £1.59.

Meanwhile, Tangerine Confectionery is strengthening the Butterkist single-serve, clip-strip range with the addition of a sweet & salted flavour.

Available later this month, it joins sea salt & balsamic vinegar, sour cream & chive and Thai sweet chilli. Butterkist brand manager, Helena Blincow, says sweet & salted is the fastest-growing flavour in the market with sales up 186% year-on-year.

Finally, gourmet popcorn brand Propercorn has recently announced that its single-serve packs are now listed in all 320 WH Smith travel outlets as well as in 40 BP forecourts.

The BP sites are stocking lightly sea salted, fiery Worcester sauce & sun-dried tomato and sweet & salty while WH Smith is taking these varieties plus sour cream & chive. Rrp is 90p and the striking packs feature the message: ’only 100 calories’.

Propercorn says it currently sells over one million packs a month but expects sales to triple over the next year as it capitalises on the increasing consumer demand for healthy snacks on-the-go.

Bobby’s big bags

Chris Smith, marketing executive for Bobby’s Foods, says sales of the firm’s big bag range are increasing rapidly in the forecourt sector, particularly Snack Mix, Prawn Spirals, Cheesy Flyers and Popcorn.
"When they are all merchandised together, they look fantastic on the shelf. Variety is key. It’s important for forecourt retailers to offer a wide selection of sharing bags to cater for various consumers, such as adults, teenagers and children."
He says that with big share bags, an ideal siting is in dumpbins by the till, or displayed on a seasonal fixture. Whereas impulse bags are great for the chiller section, where shoppers can pick up a sandwich, drink and snack very easily, so this encourages extra sales.
"We’ve found that nuts and pork crackles offer a fantastic impulse sale when placed on clip strips near to any alcohol on sale," says Smith. "People often want to snack while they drink, particularly if they are hosting a gathering of family and friends, so when they pop into a store to pick up some drinks, they’ll also grab the nuts and pork crackles that are positioned nearby."
All Bobby’s products are supplied on a full sale or return basis and sales reps visit stores every two weeks, offering promotions and replenishing stock.

Retailer view

Stephen Smith, Tanerdy Garage, Carmarthen:
"We have 3m of space with four shelves for crisps and another half a metre for nuts. Our big sellers are the usual Walkers, Quavers and Pringles and we sell a lot of them in price-marked packs. Customers like them as they perceive them to be good value. Most of the Walkers are sold in standard packs but Monster Munch, Quavers and Ruffles we sell in grab bags.
"My customers a lot are builders and farm workers are not interested in healthy crisps they’re usually buying crisps with a bottle of Coke in their hands. Anyone wanting healthier stuff tends to go for the fresh and prepared fruit that we offer.
"Most of the snacks’ manufacturers concentrate on flavour all the time but I think customers would rather have 25% more in a bag than the new sausage & banana flavour."

Made for sharing

Manufacturers love to talk about the ’sharing’ occasion in both confectionery and snacks, and launch bigger packs to cater for them. It would be interesting to find out just how many of these ’sharing’ packs were actually shared rather than eaten by one person but the research is not forthcoming. Instead however, another sharing occasion has emerged as has a bag of crisps to go with it step forward McCoy’s Ultimate developed for the £70m ’male sharing occasion’.
These bags are designed to appeal to 25-34-year old men who "demand the ultimate in sharing snacks to enjoy with friends".
McCoy’s Ultimate are griddle-cut so they can hold more flavour and each crisp is twice-flavoured for a superior taste. There are three flavours: sizzling BBQ chicken, chargrilled steak & peri peri and sea salt & black pepper. They come in 150g sharing packs (rrp £1.99) as well as a 90g bag price-marked at £1.
Meanwhile, standard McCoy’s a favourite in forecourt stores are now available in price-marked packs (PMPs). Available exclusively to independents on a ’three for two’ cases deal, the new McCoy’s 55p PMPs are available in the brand’s top three handy pack flavours: salt & malt vinegar, flame grilled steak and Cheddar & onion.
Matt Collins, trading controller convenience, KP Snacks says: "McCoy’s is a £100m brand and every year consumers buy over 45 million packs of our three best-selling flavours (Nielsen). We are now making them available in PMPs to offer great value for shoppers and great sales for retailers."


Looking for a gourmet crisp that’s not available in the major supermarkets? Then try Pipers which, despite not being available in the likes of Tesco, has still managed to achieve double-digit sales growth each year in the 10 years since its launch.
Founder Alex Albone says this gives retailers stocking his crisps a higher degree of exclusivity and enables them to set their own selling price.
He adds that Pipers Crisps pioneered the concept of ’flavour provenance’ in crisps. "Working with the same artisan flavour-producers over the years enables us to create the strong and distinctive flavours which our customers love; we know this, because that’s what they tell us. We also know that they are not necessarily interested in new flavours or gimmicky innovations; they’re looking for a great value snack which they can rely on time after time."