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Meat Snacks Take Top Spot in Snacking

Ingredient shortages and other factors are contributing to snacking categories' ups and downs, IRI research finds
meat snacks
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The influences of fast-changing economic conditions and many former office-goers shifting to a hybrid work schedule have produced a seesaw effect for the snack category—rising demand in some categories but lowering in others, according to market research firm IRI.

IRI EVP Sally Lyons Wyatt said in a recent presentation on emerging snack trends that unit sales increased at a faster rate than the five year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for omnichannel and brick-and-mortar, indicating increased consumption and in-store engagement. IRI research found 51% of consumers are looking for snacks that can be eaten on the go, but on-the-go doesn’t mean out-of-the house anymore as more consumers are eating snacks at home.

According to IRI, 31% of consumers eat three to four snacks a day, proving “snacking is a lifestyle” that is sticking,  Lyons Wyatt said. In fact, IRI research found 45% of consumers said they eat snacks instead of meals at home, which is up 3 points from five years ago.

Looking at omnichannel trends and total store for food and beverage for 2021, the snacking lifestyle trend in the U.S. is driving stronger dollar growth for macro and core snacking, Lyons Wyatt said. IRI research found macro snacking up 6% and core snacking up 8% in unit growth for 2021.

IRI research pointed out that of the top 12 categories in snacking—chocolate candy, nonchocolate candy, potato chips, crackers, cookies, yogurt, ice cream, frozen novelties, tortilla chips, salted snacks, snack nuts, and dried meat snacks—dried meat snacks came out on top.

“Meat snacks has had one of the most phenomenal years of any category I’ve studied in a long time,” Lyons Wyatt said. “But there is dollar growth across the board because of the price increases.”

IRI research found dried meat snacks were up in omnichannel growth and dollars. IRI research said in omnichannel, dried meats were up 13.5% in units. IRI research year to date saw meat snacks with a 90% in-stock percentage rate. In looking at influencers for purchasing snacks, “meat snacks have used a variety of tactics to attract and retain consumers,” Lyons Wyatt said

Ingredient shortages, rising costs of shipping and other factors coupled with the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine crisis are affecting a lot of snacking categories, Lyons Wyatt said. But despite 8% to 10% prices increases, IRI research found the five categories of potato chips, cookies, tortilla chips, granola bar and crackers continued to drive volume and dollar growth.

Plant-based snacks has not appealed to the masses in generating penetration, but IRI research found 10% of consumers are looking for plant-based snacks usually or always; whereas, 28% of consumers are looking sometimes. IRI found 15% of consumers are looking for snacks with the Certified Plant Based seal. In fact 41% of consumers who follow a plant-based or vegan diet look for packaged snacks such as potato chips or corn chips, IRI noted.

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