When it comes to meat snacks, c-stores are noting an expansion from the traditional offerings.
Stinker Stores has seen a “huge explosion” of private-label meat snacks, said Billy Colemire, marketing director, Stinker Stores, which operates 110 c-stores in Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.
Also, “we’re seeing some interesting flavor profiles come through with different brands that’s resonating and driving that category,” he added.
In the past few years, “we have seen meat snacks introduce products aimed at the female shopper,” said Nicolette Jaeger, director of merchandising and loyalty for The PRIDE Stores, which operates 15 convenience stores in the Chicagoland area and one in Indiana. “In 2023, we will see more plant-based jerky working its way into the category as well as meat snacks that are small-batch handcrafted.”
NielsenIQ Total U.S. Convenience data shows nearly $2 billion in meat snack sales, representing a 0.5% increase in 2022. Units sold numbered more than 560 million, representing a 6.5% decrease. A $3.57 per unit cost represented a 7.5% increase.
Customers are definitely looking closely at ingredients, asking for meat snacks with less sugar, but are still looking to experience different flavor profiles, Jaeger said.
Customers want to see more variety from local vendors as well as private-label brands, Colemire said.
“We have some great (local) jerky vendors in the states we operate in where we want to work with some of them,” he added. “Everybody’s still trying to figure out based on the challenges that came up over the last few years what percentage of those categories go private label versus some of the bigger players that have been in business for a long time. I’m not sure anybody has an answer on that right now. There’s a lot of question marks still in the supply chain.”
The challenge in the meat snack category is always finding more space to bring in all the new innovations, said Jaeger. The PRIDE Stores is implementing different brands into the category, like Fatty meat sticks by Sweetwood Smoke & Co.
“That specific brand has a clean label that is sure to draw a customer’s eye and it tastes great,” Jaeger said.
Colemire predicted a 5% increase in meat snack sales this year as more people transition back to in-office work. Snacking has become a significant part of the day and jerky is playing a role, he added.
“It’s something they can take with them when they’re getting fresh food and beverages from the store as well,” he added.
Jaeger said she expects meat snacks to stay flat for 2023.
“Even though customers are looking for a quick way to fuel up, meat sticks have a lot of competition within a c-store for a bite that fuels you up with simple and clean ingredients,” she added.