Up and Down the Street
By Ann Przybyla Wilkes
VP of Communications, Snack Food Association
Road for Baked Snacks is Less Rocky
Statistics show that snacking — including consumption of baked snacks — is becoming more accepted. Fifteen years ago, 70% of consumers said they tried to avoid snacks, compared to 50% today, explains Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group. Earlier this month, The NPD Group celebrated 25 years of measuring how consumers change the way they eat.
Although people are more likely to think that snacks have a role in their lives today than 15 years ago, the number of snacking occasions has not increased during this time, says Balzer. The number of snacks eaten also is not increasing, he adds.
Consumers plan most snack consumption rather than eat snacks on an impulse, says Blazer. He explains that 65% of all snacks are bought more than 24 hours before being consumed.
Baked snacks have faced a number of challenges in the last few years. For example, Daryl Brewster, group vice president and president of the U.S. Snack Sector for Kraft Foods Inc., described challenges to the cookie category as the “choppy Cs” — the carb craze, industry consolidation, retail consolidation, rising costs and a price-conscious consumer. (See SF&WB Nov. 2004 issue, p.12, for more details on Brewster’s comments.)
Balzer reports that sales in the cookie category were lost because children, rather than adults, ate fewer cookies. However, on the positive side, the decline in sales is slowing, as dollars sales in this category for the fourth quarter of 2004 were flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2003, according to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). (See chart for more details.)
Cookies Top 10 Brands
(For 13 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2004)
RANK BRAND DOLLAR VOL.
(in millions)
%
CHANGE
UNIT SALES
(in millions)
%
CHANGE
1Nabisco Oreo Sand. Choc.$42.9+5.216.9+2.7
2Nabisco Chips Ahoy Original$25.3-6.69.0-7.6
3Nabisco Oreo Double Stuff$22.5+8.98.9+7.1
4Pepperidge Farm Distinctive Milano$19.6-2.13.2-3.3
5Nabisco Nilla Wafers$16.7+4.84.1+6.8
6Nabisco Chips Ahoy Chewy$16.6+12.05.9+9.8
7Private Label Choc. Chip$16.1-0.97.0-4.5
8Little Debbie Nutty Bar$14.9+14.69.5+21.6
9Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies$14.5+5.312.5+7.1
10Private Label Sanallot$13.9-12.114.1-9.5
 TOTAL*$906.50.0319.3-0.7
*Including brands not shown
SOURCE: Information Resources Inc., Supermarkets, Drug Stores and Mass Merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart
In a whirlwind of new product activity, the cracker category saw sales increase a mere 0.1% during the fourth quarter of 2004 compared to 2003, according to IRI. Twenty years ago, cracker manufacturers set crackers on a path to be a snack rather than a meal accompaniment such as soup and crackers, Balzer explains. This resulted in “no growth” in the category, he suggests.
“One thing you can count on is people eating breakfast, lunch and supper — you can’t always count on snacks,” cautions Balzer. He pointed out that only 36% of crackers are eaten as part of a main meal compared to 51% of potato chips. He added that the average number of items eaten with breakfast is three; with lunch is three; and with dinner is four.
Sales in another baked-snack category, pretzels, have been strongly influenced by current dietary trends. This category experienced major growth in the early 1990s. This did not occur because of extra promotion but instead because low-fat diets were popular at the time. Year-to-year increases in pretzel sales from 1989 through 1994 ranged from 11.6% to a high in 25.6% between 1990 and 1991.
As popular diets shifted from the low-fat emphasis of the early 1990’s to the high-protein and then low-carb, pretzel sales were impacted. U.S. pretzel sales declined 2% between 2002 and 2003. Fortunately, the most recent numbers show growth in this category. Pretzel sales in the fourth quarter of 2004 grew 3.2% compared to the fourth quarter of 2003, reports IRI. Also, since the growth of the early ’90s was greater than the recent declines, total retail U.S. pretzel sales went from $545.3 million in 1998 to $1.26 billion in 2003.
Preztels Top 10 Brands
(For 13 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2004)
RANK BRAND DOLLAR VOL.
(in millions)
%
CHANGE
UNIT SALES
(in millions)
%
CHANGE
1Snyders of Hanover$41.1+16.514.3+9.6
2Rold Gold$38.8-7.514.8-12.9
3Private Label$14.4+4.411.1+0.7
4Utz$7.3+11.83.8+14.3
5Combos$4.7+0.61.5-5.2
6Bachman$3.4-4.61.1-8.8
7Herr’s$3.3+6.61.4-6.0
8Anderson$2.9+31.92.3+32.6
9Old Dutch$2.3-4.31.2-6.6
10Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Pretzels$2.1+4.00.7+6.1
 TOTAL*$138.5+3.260.7-1.5
*Including brands not shown
SOURCE: Information Resources Inc., Supermarkets, Drug Stores and Mass Merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart
Crackers Top 10 Brands
(For 13 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2004)
RANK BRAND DOLLAR VOL.
(in millions)
%
CHANGE
UNIT SALES
(in millions)
%
CHANGE
1Nabisco Ritz Everyday$67.50.025.9+2.9
2Nabisco Premium Saltines$45.5-2.020.7-0.6
3Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Savory$40.9+4.511.1+5.5
4Nabisco Wheat Thins Savory$36.5+3.510.7+4.8
5Sunshine Cheez-It Savory$35.6+4.712.3+4.2
6Nabisco Triscuit Savory$31.5+4.48.7+4.7
7Nabisco Wheat Thins Red. Fat Savory$24.1+4.56.6+6.4
8Keebler Club Everyday$23.2-2.39.3-3.2
9Nabisco Honey Maid Grahams$22.4-0.46.8-0.5
10Private Label Saltines$17.9-5.417.1-6.5
 TOTAL*$846.3+0.1291.7-0.9
*Including brands not shown
SOURCE: Information Resources Inc., Supermarkets, Drug Stores and Mass Merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart
Keeping up on the trends is critical to the success of baked snacks. Trends affecting worldwide competition in the food industry will be the focus of one of the presentations at SFA’s Pretzel and Baked Snacks Seminar, Apr. 6-7, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, Pa. Other presentations updating attendees on trends will look at whole grains and baked snacks, and the new Dietary Guidelines.
As always, we welcome your comments and ideas for future “Up and Down the Street” columns. Please send them to SFA’s Vice President of Communications Ann Wilkes at awilkes@sfa.org or call her at 703.836.4500 ext. 204.