CHICAGO — Cookies have become the one of the hottest sweet snacks in convenience stores in the past year. The category hit more than $820 million in total c-store sales in 2018, good for a 5% increase compared to 2017, according to IRI data for the 52-week period ending Dec. 30, 2018. This outpaced chocolate candy (0.9%), nonchocolate candy (4.3), pastries and doughnuts (3.8), snack bars (-0.4%), bakery snacks (0.3%) and ice cream (1.4%).
One reason for the surge is that cookies are breaking into the healthy snack sector, Daniele Bianchini, foodservice marketing director for Otis Spunkmeyer, San Leandro, Calif., told CSP Daily News. Otis Spunkmeyer has a line of grab-and-go snacks, including Chocolate Chunk Cookies, that are are free of “funky stuff,” such as high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and artificial flavors.
“Better-for-you snacks like cookies containing fewer ‘free-from’ ingredients have been on the rise, and snacking companies have taken notice,” she said. “As a result, [snack companies] have launched new SKUs within the cookie category.”
Take Lenny & Larry’s, Los Angeles, which produces high-protein cookies and brownies. The brand’s Complete Cookie is its most popular and has become a hit in c-stores: The product surpassed $55 million in total c-store sales in 2018, resulting in a 14.8% increase from 2017, according to IRI. Lenny & Larry’s Complete Cookie comes in a variety of flavors, such as Chocolate Donut, Apple Pie, Lemon Poppy Seed, Snickerdoodle and Pumpkin Spice, all of which contain 8 grams of protein per cookie.
The demand for healthy sweet snacks shows in data, too. Thirty-four percent of consumers say they are snacking on healthier foods compared to two years ago, and 20% of consumers between ages 18 and 34 say they’re eating more sweet snacks than they were in 2016, according to the 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend report, conducted by CSP’s sister research firm, Technomic.
Cookie sales have also grown as a result of increased visitation to c-stores, especially among millennials and Gen Z, said Bianchini.
“Millennials and Gen Z are driving sales growth in this category,” she said. “Both generations are constantly on the move and crave ‘poppable’ foods that are easily accessible and can be enjoyed while on the go.”