Shoppers Look for Health, Except when they Snack!

The Lempert Report
April 17, 2015

It’s good to remember that while there’s a trend towards healthy, people still like to indulge. 

Shoppers may seek out healthy food options, but when they want a snack, it’s the unhealthy options that get the attention. Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive VP and practice leader of client insights at IRI explained during the recent webinar “State of the Snack Food Industry” that in 2014, “for the first time in a long time, indulgent is outpacing healthier” snack sales. In fact, dollar sales for indulgent snacks are up 3.1% year-over-year in 2014 compared to an increase of 2.5% for healthier snacks.

In addition, according to IRI data, 59% of consumers say they indulge when they snack and that when consumers reach for snacks it is often to satisfy cravings for foods that are salty, sweet, crunchy or crispy.

Why is this? IRI suggests one reason that indulgent snacks are outpacing sales of healthier snacks could be because “manufacturers have actually answered the call to make indulgent snacks more permissible.:  For example, according to IRI, within the indulgent snacks - claims in 2014 were up 71% for fiber, 51% for energy, 47% for hormone-free, 31% for vegan and 30% for natural sweeteners compared to 2011.

This doesn’t mean, however, that there’s no demand for healthy snacks. In fact, IRI data showed that 41% of consumers view snacks as an important part of a healthy eating plan through the day, which is up one percentage point from 2011. In addition, 50% of consumers seek snacks that offer benefits beyond basic nutrition, which is up 26 percentage points from 2011.

So what does all this mean for retailers and manufacturers?  To keep up with consumers many manufacturers are starting to combine elements of healthy and indulgent. For example, indulgent snacks, such as chips, are becoming healthier by using more nutritious vegetables. Or for example, Chobani Flip combines healthy low-fat Greek yogurt with more indulgent toppings.

For supermarkets it’s good to remember that while there’s a trend towards healthy, people like to indulge.  So offer suggestions and tips on healthy and nutritious snack options as well as some indulgent additions.