Consumers have less time for meals and are increasingly replacing meals with snacks—according to Technomic’s 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report, more consumers now than in 2016 say they replace one or two meals per day with snacks. Specifically, they’re craving quick, portable, shelf-stable eats with functional nutrition that can be packed into school lunches, eaten on the way to work or stored in a desk drawer for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Opportunity exists for convenience store retailers to highlight increased snacking occasions by offering a wider variety of snacks. By stocking a variety of items like functional foods and high-protein options, retailers can keep abreast of consumer trends and remain competitive.
Here are three ways retailers can capitalize on increasing snack demands.
Offering functional foods
Consumers want not just healthy options during away-from-home dining occasions, but also functional foods that address something in the body that’s lacking in some way. Nearly two-thirds of consumers (64%) say they are eating more foods because of their specific nutritional benefits compared to two years ago, according to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report.
Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. As consumers’ definitions of healthy eating evolve, some will incorporate a more holistic view of health and look for items that meet functional needs such as reducing stress, aiding in digestion or improving sleep.
Functional foods may include ingredients like grains, some fruits and vegetables and nuts as well as high protein snacks like beef jerky or dried meat sticks. C-store retailers who are already stock ingredients associated with functional health claims should display signs explaining how these ingredients can help meet consumers’ dietary needs. Those who don’t yet offer these products might consider working with suppliers who offer functional foods. The most desired functional attributes that consumers seek include foods high in antioxidants, options that aid digestion and foods that are anti-inflammatory. When it comes to functional health claims, stress relief is especially appealing to younger consumers, according to Technomic’s Healthy Eating report.
Highlighting hearty, protein-rich snacks
Consumers continue to seek more protein in their diets. High-protein meat-based snacks are perfectly positioned to satisfy these cravings and fill the hunger gap. Retailers should stock snacks that feature beef, chicken, seafood, nut butter or other protein-rich grains that are small, portable and shelf-stable, such as clean-ingredient beef jerky and other dried meat snacks. Take, for example, Jack Link’s Protein Snacks made with no added MSG or nitrates/nitrites. Jack Link’s offers an array of high-protein snacks, including three new products:
- Steak Bites: Pieces of 100% cured beef in a hand-held, tear-and-eat snack pack that provides 17 grams of protein, available in Original and Teriyaki flavors.
- Cold Crafted Linkwiches: Breadless “sandwiches” that feature cured meats and Wisconsin cheese and provide 14 grams of protein—varieties include Hard Salami & Colby Jack Cheese; Genoa Salami and Pepperjack; and Hard Salami & Cheddar Cheese.
- Smokehouse Beef Smoked Sausages:100% beef sausage sticks, naturally hickory- and applewood-smoked, and available in Original and Spicy Red Pepper flavors.
Offering food and convenience in a small space is a hallmark of nearly every c-store. But retailers have another opportunity to use an even more convenient way to reach on-the-go customers through vending programs. Retailers can combine quick service and the latest technology in a machine stocked with quick eats and high-protein snacks, like heartier meat-based options.
What’s more, nearly half of all younger consumers—a key snacking demographic—say they would purchase snacks from vending machines that offer fresh, healthful items, according to Technomic’s 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report.
While new-age, fresh-focused vending machines have been around for a few years, traditional machines with more indulgent snacks are still a far more common sight. By offering the types of snacks consumers are looking for in a convenient, ultra-fast vending machine, c-store retailers and other quick-service stores can reach customers who need to get in and get out in as little time as possible—perfect for busy parents trying to drop the kids off at school, professionals running late for work and more.
Snacking is a big deal for today’s consumers. C-store retailers need to maintain a varied stock of healthful options that offer functional protein in a quick and portable format. By offering Jack Link’s products, retailers can ensure consumers find what they’re looking for.
This post is sponsored by Jack Link's Protein Snacks