Category Snapshot: Alternative Snacks

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Category Snapshot: Alternative Snacks

By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News - 03/22/2016

NATIONAL REPORT — Alternative snacks are growing more profitable for convenience stores in the United States, with dollar sales increasing 7.1 percent over the 52 weeks that ended Feb. 13, 2016, according to new data and analysis provided to Convenience Store News by Nielsen.

Unit sales are also on the rise, but at a slower pace, indicating that despite growing demand, prices are growing at a faster rate in the convenience channel, the global research company noted. 

Growth in alternative snack sales is being seen across all regions of the country. Both sales and units, though, are growing the fastest in the Northeast.

Within the alternative snacks category, protein bars are experiencing the biggest sales gain, at an increase of more than 11 percent during the 52 weeks ended Feb. 13. Protein is a valued attribute at the moment, as 23 percent of consumers in North America say they are willing to pay a premium for high-protein products, Nielsen cited.

Another alternative-snack type known for its high protein, meat snacks, continues to reign supreme in terms of category share. Meat snacks account for 60 percent of all alternative snack sales in c-stores across the U.S. However, unit sales of meat snacks have slightly declined in the Midwest and South, by 0.9 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, during the 52-week period analyzed. 

Granola/yogurt bars make up only a small portion of the alternative snacks category at 4.6 percent, but they saw a marked increase at independent c-stores, up 11.7 percent over the 52 weeks, Nielsen highlighted. Chain c-stores saw an increase as well, but only of 4.3 percent.

Independent c-stores are also seeing a higher sales increase in meat snacks over chain c-stores.