Up And Down The Street

Consumers Selecting More Healthy Snacks
Healthier eating and convenience are behind the 3.5% growth per year between 2002 and 2004 for healthy snack foods, according to Healthy Snacking, July 2005 from Mintel International. The increasing portion of advertising dollars spent on better-for-you snacks also is driving this $15.2 billion market.
Mintel used input from consumers to determine healthy snack categories. Mintel commissioned TechnoMetrica to conduct two surveys in 2005 of adults aged 18 and over. Consumers were asked: “Please list all the foods that you eat as healthy snacks.” Foods that were cited by at least 5% of respondents were included in the report, with a few exceptions. Rice/popcorn cakes and fruit snacks were cited by less than 5% and were included, while ice cream, cookies and peanut butter were named by more than 5% and were not included.
The “nuts, dried fruits and trail mix” category was the ranked third-highest (23% of all participants), while “crackers” were the fourth most popular healthy snack, with 17% of participants listing them.
Mintel’s report included sections on each of the “healthy snack” categories, including those described below.
Crackers is one of the larger segments within the healthy snacks category, yet sales remained flat between 2002 and 2003 and declined 0.8% in 2004. On the positive side, sales are expected the rebound somewhat in 2005 as cracker manufacturers reformulate many products to include whole grains.
Nuts & Seeds have enjoyed double-digit growth (13.4% between 2002 and 2003 and 14.2% in 2004) due to the popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets, an aging population (older adults are more likely to eat them) and positive health news. In July 2003, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the qualified health claim, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 oz. per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease,” on packages of almonds, pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans.
Snack bars (energy, cereal and diet), consumed as “healthy snacks,” grew from $1.1 billion in sales in 2002 to $1.3 billion in 2004 in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart (FDM). The energy and nutrition bars subsegment is the largest, with 36% of FDM category sales. It grew 20% from 2002 to 2004.
Popcorn sales of all types (microwave, ready-to-eat and kernel) decreased 4% between 2003 and 2004. However, Mintel expects sales to improve in 2005 as consumers’ awareness of the benefits of whole grains, including popcorn, continues to rise.
Better-for-you chips and cheese snacks — including light, baked and all-natural/organic varieties of potato chips, tortilla chips and cheese snacks — sales are growing at a faster rate than total chip and cheese snack sales (14% versus 2%, respectively, in FDM between 2002 and 2004).
Pretzels are expected to have a better year in 2005, after an 8% decrease between 2002 and 2004 in FDM. The low-carb diet craze hurt pretzel sales, but new introductions — including ones that are a good source of fiber and iron — will help the category, predicts Mintel.
The healthy snack market will continue to experience moderate growth. “Once relegated to mainly to health and natural food stores, healthy snacks have made huge distribution gains in recent years,” points out the report. Mintel also predicts that healthy snacks will continue to gain distribution in nontraditional channels, such as drug stores, convenience stores, gas stations and dollar stores.
Mintel produces more than 600 reports each year, covering an extensive number of sectors and focusing on topical marketing issues. The Snack Food Association has made arrangements with Mintel to offer SFA members a 15% discount on the new Healthy Snacking, 2005 Report. To receive a free contents page listing, please contact Meesham Neergheen at Mintel at 1-312-932-0400 or meesham@mintel.com.
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