Salty Snacks Hold Strong

When it comes to chips and salty snacks at the nation’s convenience stores, any time is crunch time. That’s because America’s c-store customers enjoy few things more than crunching into yet another package of sodium-laced chips, pretzels, nuts and/or similar items.

Category sales bear this out.

According to scan data from the IRI for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 31, 2017, sales of salty snacks totaled at least $5.3 billion, a 7.24% increase over the previous year.

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Wells Fargo Securities LLC reported all channel dollar sales for salty snacks increased 4.7% during the four-week period ending Jan. 27, 2018, according to Nielsen data.

From a sales-ranking perspective, top favorites are Doritos Tortilla Chips, Cheetos Cheese Snacks, Lay’s Potato Chips, Ruffles Potato Chips and Funyuns Onion Snacks, said Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader with Chicago-based IRI.

Those leading the pack in sales growth are Late July Tortilla Chips, Paqui Tortilla Chips, Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels, Churrumais Corn Snacks and Sunshine Cheez-It Snack Mix. Paqui Chips, certified as Kosher, are gaining as shoppers look to meet dietary needs.

“Top flavors based on unit sales growth are hot and spicy, Mexican, vinegar, sweet and beer,” Wyatt said. “Those declining based on dollar and unit sales are meat, chocolate, Asian, butter and peanut butter.”

Best placement and promotional strategies are primarily situation based, Wyatt said. “However, one key strategy that all companies should drive is to strategically leverage pricing to enhance volume growth, while avoiding using it as a tactic for driving dollar value growth.”

STEADY PERFORMANCE
At Team Oil Travel Center in Spring Valley, Wis., grocery manager Jesse Streater reported chips are a “pretty steady” item.

Popular items include Fritos, Doritos and Old Dutch chips, in a number of flavors. Kettle cooked chips are among customer favorites, as are plain, sour cream and onion, barbecue and newer flavors. Sales are guaranteed on both the Lay’s chips and on Old Dutch. The companies, Streater said, will set up the shelves themselves, and do their own ordering.

When it comes to popcorn, a brisk mover is the Smartfood brand in plain and cheese.

“They offer new flavors sometimes but they never seem to stick very long,” Streater said.
Team Oil, like c-store operations from coast to coast, makes it easy for patrons to find the salt they crave, positioning its chips and salty snacks on two sides of one aisle, and on end caps. Customers don’t have to search for them.

“We have got them where [customers] will see them the second they come through the store, and at the register,” said Streater.