The coronavirus put an added emphasis on health. But despite consumers moving toward better-for-you snacks in recent years, indulgence remains a key driver in the salty-snack market, according to Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping, & Food Trends in the Age of Coronavirus” report from June.
Put simply: People want food that tastes good, Packaged Facts says. San Francisco-based analytics firm Skupos found that salty-snack sales fell slightly during March and April—prime stock-up months amid COVID-19. But Skupos data shows consumers returned to guilty pleasures in May. Sales data from more than 11,400 independently owned and small convenience-store chains (100 stores or less), showed the stores sold about 20.7 million units in salty snacks for total revenue of $43.3 million in May, Skupos found. The revenue is up less than 1% compared to July 2019.
Whether the snack is salty or sweet, consumers want a feel-good treat, according to Jessica Gardeck, associate channel manager at General Mills Convenience, Minneapolis. “This could be treating themselves to a more indulgent-type snack or it could be seeking out familiar favorites that remind them of home or their childhood,” she says.
Prairie City Bakery, Vernon Hills, Ill., also is seeing consumers desire foods that they are familiar and comfortable with, says Aaron Rocklewitz, director of marketing for Prairie City. “They want to indulge and give themselves a reward or treat, but in a responsible way,” he says.