Portion-control is hot, 100-calorie packs not

Articles
May 22, 2009

Portion-control is hot, 100-calorie packs not

Once the darlings of center-store, the 100-calorie packs for cookies, crackers and other snacks seem suddenly out of touch with today’s economic realities. If their sales fall in 2009, three reasons will have pushed them over the edge: • First, a single pack lacked ample food to satisfy many, which drove consumers to eat two or three packs at a time. Chances are they also felt guilt due to their inability to be happy with just one—and who needed that. • Second, the recession gripped everyone’s budget, and led shoppers to calculate the high per-ounce premium they were paying for the convenience of grab-and-go packs. They decided they’d rather buy regular-size food packages instead, and spend the few extra minutes to make their own small packs using plastic sandwich bags. • Third, people grew greener and began to look at these 100-calorie packs as examples of over-packaging that’s not environmentally sound. Opting for other products instead is a simple choice that favors the Earth. So, as hot as these items once were in the cookies, crackers and snacks sections, consumers’ ardor seems to cooling: as price becomes more of a purchase consideration, the trade-off of a few minutes of time seems easier. New research from Mintel shows that only 1 adult in 7 (14%) currently buys pre-measured packs, and the primary reason for doing so is convenience, not weight management. Some 67% of women and 55% of men said they would buy more if the packs cost less.

Once the darlings of center-store, the 100-calorie packs for cookies, crackers and other snacks seem suddenly out of touch with today’s economic realities.

If their sales fall in 2009, three reasons will have pushed them over the edge:

•    First, a single pack lacked ample food to satisfy many, which drove consumers to eat two or three packs at a time. Chances are they also felt guilt due to their inability to be happy with just one—and who needed that.
•    Second, the recession gripped everyone’s budget, and led shoppers to calculate the high per-ounce premium they were paying for the convenience of grab-and-go packs. They decided they’d rather buy regular-size food packages instead, and spend the few extra minutes to make their own small packs using plastic sandwich bags.
•    Third, people grew greener and began to look at these 100-calorie packs as examples of over-packaging that’s not environmentally sound. Opting for other products instead is a simple choice that favors the Earth.

So, as hot as these items once were in the cookies, crackers and snacks sections,
consumers’ ardor seems to cooling: as price becomes more of a purchase consideration, the trade-off of a few minutes of time seems easier. New research from Mintel shows that only 1 adult in 7 (14%) currently buys pre-measured packs, and the primary reason for doing so is convenience, not weight management. Some 67% of women and 55% of men said they would buy more if the packs cost less.

These blemishes weren’t so apparent a few years ago when these packs encroached on prime shelf space. We should applaud the role that 100-calorie packs have made in educating people as to the look of proper portion sizes (Hint: smaller than a nation with one-third of its adults in the obese category would prefer).

Consider these packs, if you will, as training wheels for consumers who want to get their portions under control. The principle of the 100-calorie pack means something to them, and now thanks to their recent experience with these packs, they understand how to create them on their own.

We see this as a formula for saving pounds, saving money, and helping to save the environment by reducing demand for over-packaged food products.