Healthy Gains

Healthier snacks, candy making strides with c-store shoppers

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- While Americans on the whole still look to snacks and candy to satisfy their indulgent cravings, healthier options are making headway, according to one industry researcher. "C-stores were able to target both indulgent and healthy [tastes]," said Sally Lyons Wyatt, senior vice president of Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago. "They're getting the right mix to appeal to consumers."

About 40 retailers and suppliers in attendance last week at the CSP Snack & Candy Category Review Meeting listened as Wyatt reviewed trends derived from two internal sources—[image-nocss] one being a relatively new, convenience-specific survey connected to in-store scanning devices.

In its internal comparative studies, a healthy option—dry fruit snacks—saw the biggest dollar and volume growth (42% and 45% respectively) from 2006 to 2007, while the pastry and doughnut category came in second (13% dollar growth and 8% volume). Toaster pastries came in third (11% dollar, 8% volume), with gum (11% dollar, 6% volume) and ice cream and sherbet (10% dollar, 8% volume) rounding out the top five.

Both the "heavy healthier" and the "heavy indulgent" snack buyer increased spending on healthier snacks, according to IRI figures. Putting 2004 figures against 2007, Wyatt said healthier snack buyers went from 38% to 41% of their snack purchases going to healthier options, while heavy indulgent snack buyers went from 27% of snack spending for healthier alternatives up to 29%.

IRI comparative numbers showed healthier snacks grew at a faster pace than indulgent options, at 6.6% for healthier and 1.3% for indulgent, she reported. Nutrition and weight-management products fueled the increases with the top categories in dollar growth (2007 vs. 2006) being multigrain snacks (26%), nutritional trail mixes (19%), light tortilla chips (16%), light ice cream (14%) and sugarless gum (14%).

However, indulgent snacks still represented 66% of the overall market vs. 34% for healthier alternatives. "So don't put all your eggs in one basket," she said.

Candy and snacks ranked sixth and seventh respectively in the list of top-10 c-store categories derived from the NACS State of the Industry survey for 2007 (powered by CSX). NACS also reported a 0.6% increase in candy sales for 2007 and a 3.7% sales increase in salty snacks.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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