Salty Snacks Are Bouncing Back

The category is recovering from its pandemic decline.

February 10, 2022

Salty Snacks

By Terri Allan

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Following disappointing pandemic-induced trends in 2020, the salty snacks category in convenience stores appears to have rebounded. And retailers and salty snack suppliers are hopeful that with store traffic normalizing, and with new flavors and packaging options emerging, the category is well positioned for a successful 2022 and beyond.

Mike Jackson, category manager at High’s convenience stores, with more than 50 locations in the mid-Atlantic, said late last year that sales of salty snacks were “bouncing back,” with volume sales up at double-digit rates in both the second and third quarters of 2021. He projected that 2021 volume would easily surpass that of the year prior and would “slightly beat out” 2019 sales.

Bob Clark, vice president, marketing, at Herr Foods Inc., cited strong growth in c-stores last year, especially during the summer and fall. In fact, Clark said that according to IRI data, Herr’s performance in c-stores last year outpaced trends in other channels. “This growth is being driven by increased consumption of snacks as foot traffic returns,” he explained. “Consumers are back to school and back to work, which is helping drive impulse snack sales.”

As with some other in-store categories, salty snacks sales struggled during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2020 Data, average annual sales per store of salty snacks dropped 3.2% to $123,751 during the period, and the category’s contribution to total in-store sales dipped slightly.

Jayme Gough, NACS research manager, noted that in addition to slowed store traffic, the category was adversely impacted by consumer bulk buying in larger format stores. For the calendar year through August 2021, however, the picture appeared to be much improved. CSX data showed that beginning in April, monthly salty snack sales were higher than in each of the previous three years, and that pertained to all leading subcategories.

“We’re seeing a relatively strong return of away- from-home occasions, which is increasing foot traffic in c-stores,” remarked Mark Chu, director of marketing for Amplify Snack Brands, which produces the SkinnyPop and Pirate’s Booty labels.

But for some retailers, recent supply chain disruption is leading to uneven sales trends for salty snacks.

Read the remainder of this NACS Magazine article in February’s Category Close-Up article “Bounce Back” in the digital copy of NACS Magazine.

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