Cutlery-free nibbles have always tempted the pint-swilling punter.
Whether paired with a floral hop beer or a crisp white wine, alcohol arouses flavours of salt and fat on the taste buds, making the average bowl of peanuts taste that little bit better when sipping (or gulping) an alcoholic beverage.
Pubs offer an all-day snacking opportunity for customers and that has evolved in order to meet the demand of innovative and sophisticated palates.
As a result, it’s not just your traditional packet of pork scratchings, crisps and nuts anymore. Pub consumers have access to the widest selection of snacks yet. Even dried insects are on the market...
One of the key trends driving the revolution in pub-based snacking is that consumers are craving change. Generation Z is drinking less according to BBC reports but, despite this, Gen Z is more enticed than ever by ‘light bite’ offerings, meaning pubs need to both accommodate their snack menus to boost customer spending as well as deliver unique choices to spur conversation starters and encourage younger customers to revisit.
So, would a bag of dried crickets tickle your fancy? It seems Eat Grub’s dried insect snacks could most definitely kick-start a conversation or two with its controversial offerings. The snacks have been welcomed with open arms in big cities, such as London and Bristol, in bars that offer a great range of craft beer and cocktails.
Eat Grub sales manager Jordan Addison said: “Taste is the number one reason people buy snacks in the UK, and we certainly offer that.” Sweet Chilli & Lime, Smoky BBQ and Peri-Peri flavours are all available and all equally popular.
He added: “We use crickets because we can offer up to 45% protein per pack but they also hold flavour really well and allow us to pack both a flavour and protein punch with texture and crunch in line with current bar snacks. It tastes just like a little pork scratching.”
Dried insects have hit the mark with some craft beer drinkers and cocktail bars, especially being a natural product and being in the ‘better-for-you’ category – another trend that seems to be steering the surge of bagged snacks.
Consumers want to do well by doing good and, in fact, 89% of consumers care about the planet and 70% are willing to pay more for sustainable products, according to a report from J Walter Thompson Intelligence.
While there has been an increase of 33.4% in buyers over two years for healthier snacks, according to Kantar Worldpanel, many consumers still believe healthier snacks won’t taste as good. But, Well & Truly Crunchy snacks aim to prove the ‘lifestyle’ category doesn’t have to be bland or boring. Its snacks offer pub consumers a healthier alternative while still delivering on the flavour and crunch you would expect from a full-fat snack – ‘unjunking’ but still ‘well and truly’ satisfying. They are stocked in multiple independent pubs across the UK and have seen high repurchase rates, which ties into the recent Kantar research stating that pubs and bars are one of the top-performing channels for snacking products with 4.7% growth since August 2018.
Also tapping into the continued trend towards healthier snack alternatives is Tayto’s launch of two innovative products – Pure Bite and Golden Wonder Light & Loaded. Tayto group manager Matt Smith said: “Pure Bite, available in five variants, ticks all the boxes for positive vegan health trends because it is high fibre, high protein, low in calories, salt and sugar, as well as free from dairy, gluten and preservatives.
“When we started developing our new healthier range, we were determined not to compromise on Golden Wonder’s legendary taste. By investing in new, air popping technology we created Light & Loaded, a multigrain snack that has 50% less fat and 81 calories per pack. Combining this with mainstream flavours (Cheddar Cheese and Smoky Bacon) enabled us to deliver all the taste with half the fat.”
Testing new flavours
Another noticeable trend among pub consumers is the temptation to trial new flavours, just like we have seen with the expansion of gin. So while flavour continues to be the king of all snacks, pub managers and consumers are picking new nibbles to accompany particular drinks. And, KP Snacks is doing just that.
Trading director Matt Collins claimed: “For the more discerning patron, Tyrrells’ hand-cooked crisps pair just as well with a gin and tonic, as they do with a pint of lager.”
KP Snacks’ portfolio offers something for everyone with flavours that are bound to get your mouth watering. With KP Snacks’ eye-catching pub cards, in seconds you’ll find yourself debating and mulling over the limitless choice of flavours to partner your drink.
Collins said: “No pint at the pub is complete without a packet of crisps or a bag of nuts and, at KP Snacks, we have a wide range of snacks to fit every customer need. McCoy’s top-selling lines Flame Grilled Steak and Salt & Vinegar deliver full-on flavour in every bag.”
Finally, it wouldn’t be right to discuss the endless options for bagged snacks without touching on the timeless favourite, pork scratchings. A snack that will, inevitably, be displayed behind the bar of any local pub. The legendary pork snack will always offer an opportunity for incremental sales because consumers love them and pubs can benefit from strong margins.
Tayto group manager Matt Smith said: “Our research highlighted consumers really crave the unique flavour and texture of pork scratchings, that just isn’t delivered by other snacks.
“We found, scratchings are bought on impulse, with over 80% being consumed with a drink. What’s more, in a recent survey, 72% of respondents claimed they bought pork scratchings in the pub.
Therefore, merchandising pork snacks where they are highly visible will drive impulse sales.”
So, let’s paint the picture. It’s a Friday night, you’ve had a heavy week at work and you’ve skipped dinner at home and gone straight to the pub.
A couple of pints in, you start to feel peckish but, evidently, you don’t have to look as far as the hot food menu as there is an endless temptation of snacks just across the bar.
Convenient, miscellaneous and tasty. It looks like the growing and innovative trend of bagged snacks offers something for everyone.
From consumers to the operators, everybody will be rubbing their hands together now the segment has seen such a wide range of innovation.