Snacking Trends Shift for Memorial Day

Study suggests consumers will catch up on activities they missed out on in 2020.

May 24, 2021

PLANO, Texas—This year consumers will have a “two summers in one” mentality as the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches, according to Frito Lay’s latest Snacking Index.

During the pandemic most consumers (82%) planned to stay at home for Memorial Day, but this year that number has flipped: eight in 10 (80%) consumers have already made plans for Memorial Day, including outdoor activities like attending a barbecue, spending time at the park, visiting the beach, traveling or playing outdoor sports.

Additionally, 50% of vaccinated adults are planning to spend time with people outside of their household for Memorial Day.

The index found that snacking is essential to summer, with eight in 10 consumers (80%) saying that summer snacks are a staple of the season (84%) or essential to moments they enjoy (80%).

“Overall, the home continues to be central for snacking and gatherings; however, as the world reopens and vaccinations continue, consumers are venturing out again,” said Mike Del Pozzo, chief customer officer, Frito-Lay North America.

Consumers also say they are willing to try to products and flavors, but the classics remain a steady favorite.

  • When choosing a summer snack, the most important thing to consumers is convenience or having tried-and-true favorites
  • Chips are the top snack to stock up on for nearly all summer activities 
  • Americans are getting more adventurous compared to last year, with people preferring new, spicy and bold flavors (25% in 2020 vs. 32% in 2021). This is higher among millennials and Gen Z, with 45% saying they prefer new, spicy and bold flavors this summer. 

Snack Attack
While the salty snacks category experienced some disruption during pandemic, convenience retailers that adhered to tried-and-true ordering and merchandising practices are well-positioned to capitalize on sales as in-store traffic picks up.  

During the NACS State of the Industry Summit in April, Kelley Gutierrez, category manager for candy and snacks at MAPCO Express Inc., presented 2020 industry data for the salty snacks category: in-store sales increased 4.27% over 2019 and captured 4.84% of in-store gross margin contribution. (The NACS State of the Industry Report® of 2020 Data is available for pre-sale, and orders will be fulfilled in early July.)

In 2020 shoppers were also attracted to better-for-you options in the salty snacks category as they embraced new eating lifestyles. For example, popcorn and pretzels delivered innovation and mixed snacks continue to showcase more intense flavor profiles.

“While popcorn and pretzels haven’t done well lately, they’re going to bounce back in 2021 because of the innovation and flavor profiles coming out,” Gutierrez said.

Be on the lookout for the June issue of NACS Magazine for exclusive industry financial and operational insights captured at the NACS State of the Industry Summit.

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