Snacks: it's in the bag

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Health kick: some 20% of consumers are willing to pay more for snacks with nutritional benefits
Health kick: some 20% of consumers are willing to pay more for snacks with nutritional benefits

Related tags: Bagged snacks, Snack foods, Snack food

With a lot of innovation going on in bagged snacks, we take a look at the latest products on offer, whether it’s worth stocking bagged snacks, what the ideal range is and what consumers are looking for. Emma Eversham reports.

The range of bagged snacks available to publicans has never been wider. From the traditional pork scratchings, crisps and nuts through to flavoured popcorn, dry-roasted beans and seeds, and meat-based snacks like jerky, snacking salami and even edible insects, the category is moving forward at a rapid pace.

While the increased offering could seem overwhelming, one thing is clear: pubs stocking bagged snacks can expect a higher spend from customers.

“Customers who buy crisps, snacks and nuts in pubs and bars tend to stay longer and those who buy snacks spend 17% more than those who don’t, thereby helping to drive total spend,” says Richard Honey, out of home channel controller at PepsiCo, manufacturer of the Walkers portfolio, which includes Market Deli crisps, Bacon Fries and Nobby’s Nuts as well as the core range of crisps.

Stocking bagged snacks is also a savvy business move for busy pubs. Free-serve snacks may allow you to exercise your own creativity but, as Andrew Allen, chief marketing officer and co-founder of flavoured pork crackling makers the Snaffling Pig Co says, they can slow staff up at busy times.

“Don’t get me wrong, we love a fancy free serve and our core range of double-cooked pork crackling actually features its own loose-serve format. However, when your bar is four-deep on a Friday night, the speed of serve and consistency that bagged snacks offer is still king,” he says.

The fact there has been so much innovation within the bagged snacks arena in the past few years means that Allen’s aforementioned ‘speed of serve and consistency’ are not the only positive benefits associated with stocking a wider range. Publicans doing so can also meet a growing appetite for premium snacks.

“Ever-more sophisticated consumer tastes have led licensed outlets to premiumise their food menus, enhance flavours and improve provenance. This trend has also driven the ‘premiumisation’ of snacks and is the reason behind the huge sales growth in this category,” states Alex Albone, founder of Pipers Crisps, who points to research by CGA Strategy that shows premium crisps command a 30% price premium over quality mainstream products.

Premium edge

Consumer appetite for more premium and quality products was a driver of the creation of Serious Pig’s snacking salami after co-founders George Rice and Johnny Bradshaw conceived the idea of a ‘posh Peperami’
over pints at a London pub.

They went on to create two snacking salamis – Classic and Chilli & Paprika – as well as a sliced biltong named Snackingham using carefully sourced pork from British farms.

The company, which secured a £125,000 investment in June 2015 from backers including BrewDog founder James Watt, has continued to innovate within its quality space, launching an oven-roasted crackling product called Snackling at the beginning of the year.

Rice says the ‘distinctive’ way the product – in 35g bags (£2.50 each) – is cooked also gives it a point of difference. “The texture and flavour we get from oven roasting is amazing: it bubbles and turns a beautiful golden colour and becomes incredibly crispy. The flavour is rich and full of delicious porkiness and it’s all from just three simple ingredients: pork, olive oil and sea salt.”

A similar approach to sourcing and production, albeit to a different snacking product, has been applied to Brindisa’s new range. Available in 100-150g sharing packs, it includes grade 16 salted Marcona Almonds and three types of Catalan Almonds (Salted, Smoked and Smoked Paprika) as well as Spicy Broad Bean, Maize Kernels and a Cocktail Snack Mix.

The nuts are hand roasted in small batches, leaving them with a crunch and a creamy finish – the ideal partner to a cold lager.

Brindisa founder Monika Linton agrees with Pipers Crisps’ Albone that consumers are showing an interest in premium snacks, and believes those with nutritional or health benefits are beginning to take more of the spotlight.

“Authentic and exciting snacking products are attracting more attention as consumers choose quality food over quantity,” she says, noting that her company has seen a “significant increase” in demand since launching its new range.

“This success is not just down to the trend for premiumisation. One fifth of consumers are willing to pay more for snacks with nutritional benefits. Almonds are an excellent source of protein, magnesium, fibre and vitamin E, so they appeal to more health-conscious bar snackers.”

Hannah Haas, head of marketing at The Food Doctor, which launched a four-strong range of flavoured Popped Crisp Thins – a mix of soya and corn ‘popped’ at a high temperature instead of being fried or baked – in May, agrees.

“Pubs, bars and the foodservice sector in general are under pressure from consumers to offer healthier options so I think there is definitely an opportunity for our healthy snacks to take some back-bar space,” she says.

Health-conscious eating

The Food Doctor has also overhauled its Snack Mix range, with plans to launch a six-strong selection of flavoured beans and seeds – Full of Beans, Raw Power, Smokin’ Edamame, Smokehouse Trail, Super Seeds and Chipotle Trail Mixes – in 30g bags this month.

“Perfect for a healthy nibble with a beer, soft drink or a glass of wine, these show that healthy snacking doesn’t have to mean no fun and flavour,” she adds.

Nutrition plays a key part in French company Jimini’s new snack range for pubs, but the fact the base product is formed of edible insects is arguably more of a defining factor.

Mercedesz Bondi, Jimini’s country manager, said the range, which comprises three varieties of insects flavoured in six ways (Salt & Vinegar and BBQ & Smoked Onion crickets, Sour Cream & Onion and Spicy Chilli buffalo worms, and Sesame & Cumin and Garlic & Herb mealworms) was already proving popular in the pubs trialling it.

“It’s not mainstream yet, so it stands out compared with the competition,” she says, highlighting that currently the only retailers stocking Jimini’s products are Fortnum & Mason and Partridges in London. “We also think it’s a great talking point. When you go to the bar and order a snack, you generally don’t have an opinion on it, but everyone has an opinion on the idea of edible insects.”

Alongside the inevitable point of difference, Bondi says the range, available in 6g bags (£2.50 each) taste good (the Sour Cream & Onion crickets taste like Pringles) and have the added benefit of being high in protein.

“With salt & vinegar potato or salt & vinegar edible insects, you’re not going to notice much difference in how they taste because the base product just picks up the flavour, but with edible insects you get more with it health-wise than you would with crisps.”

Whether stocking a new product or broadening the existing range and opting for classic favourites, premium products or healthy ones, the overriding message is to make them visible to customers.

“We ask pubs to show off our products in clip jars on the back bar, rather than hide them behind the bar, as it’s not something people would ask for currently,” says Bondi.

Improved visibility clearly works. When Dean Packman, landlord of the Forester pub in Ealing, west London, improved the display of his range of Walkers crisps, sales rose 55% in the following three weeks.

“The thing that has made the biggest impact since the Walkers rep visited is the clip strips and counter-top display units. Before, we had small baskets of crisps on display around the bar, but now the Walkers branding clearly stands out on the counter-top units and customers can see the full range we offer,” he says.       

What's new?

Snaffling Pig has launched a new flavour in partnership with Colman’s English Mustard. The double hand-cooked pork crackling with Colman’s English Mustard is available in 50g foil packs (£1.50 each).

The Food Doctor launched its four-strong range of Popped Crisp Thins to the trade in May. The soy and corn products are available in Spicy Chipotle, Sweet Chilli, Hot Wasabi and Mild Korma flavours. A six-strong range of Snack Mixes will be rolled out to the trade in August. Available in 25/30g packs, the range of flavoured mixes of nuts and seeds includes Full of Beans, Raw Power, Smokin’ Edamame, Smokehouse Trail, Super Seeds and Chipotle Trail.

Jimini’s has launched a range of edible insect snacks at pubs. Insects are dehydrated and then flavoured. The range comprises Salt & Vinegar and BBQ & Smoked Onion crickets, Sour Cream & Onion and Spicy Chilli buffalo worms, and Sesame & Cumin and Garlic & Herb mealworms. The 6g packs are priced at £2.50 each and two types must be purchased at the same time and displayed in clip jars.

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