By: Jennifer Childres | Data Analyst

On October 14, McLane teammates Dawn Letson – Snack Category Manager, Lindsey Shultz – CCI Analyst, and myself, Jennifer Childers reviewed the 12-foot Salty Snacks planogram with representatives from the vendor/broker community including Kellogg’s, Conagra, ProMark, Crossmark, Acosta, Advantage and A C Central.

Using data sourced from IRI, Nielsen and McLane, we took a deep look at trends of the overall category and broke it down into segments: Snacking Nuts and Seeds along with Salty. Using this information, we proceeded to use it to adjust the planogram. We did pull and plugs for low performing items as well as items that may still be facing availability concerns due to ongoing supply chain issues. The overall goal was to create a POG that will help McLane customers grow the category with a stronger mix and to make sure we are suggesting items that will keep our customer’s shelves full.  

To start the day, we looked at the first four feet which included Snack Nuts and Seeds. As we dove into the data, we found that the category is healthy.

Brent Warner with Conagra stated that, based on IRI, last 26 weeks Snack Nuts and Seeds are down -2.8% in units. If we break it down, Snacking Nuts are down 5.1% and Seeds are down slightly at -0.02 % in units. Seeds, though still down ever so slightly, are healthier than this time last year.

David Elkins with Crossmark analyzed the data down further by providing insight into share of space by segment. He stated that, based on dollar share, Nuts hold a 57% share, Seeds 24% and Trail Mix 19%.

IRI Liquid Data Salty Snacks Tl US Conv 52wks Ending 10.4.22
IRI Liquid Data Salty Snacks Tl US Conv 52wks Ending 10.4.22

Something else interesting that David stated pertains to the rank of Nut types which are; Peanuts, Pistachios, Cashews, Almonds, and Mixed Nuts. 

After evaluating the item mix and adjustments, the space to share is; Nuts 46%, Trail Mix 20% and Seeds 34%. Though the numbers do not match exactly with what Nielsen recommends, we are close. As we build the national set and we try to highlight as many strong brands as possible, we are a little over in areas. For example, we have three brands of Seeds represented in depth. I would recommend to customers that you could cut the seeds down by revamping duplicate flavors. In certain regions David’s outperforms Spitz so you may not need a black pepper represented in both brands. Similarly, in Trail Mix we have three brands where typically we may only see two.

After reviewing Nuts and Seeds we moved to the eight feet of Salty. Again, taking a deep dive into the trends, we found that snacking currently is a growing. The Salty Snacks category is leading the growth and has been growing for a while. As shopper habits have changed over the last couple of years, the shift in snacking has the recovery and growth outpacing most other c-store categories.

Warehouse delivered snacks last 26 weeks from IRI were provided by David Elkins. He states IRI is seeing 18% growth in dollars and 2.8% growth in units.

The share of space should be Chips/Pretzels/Rinds at 62%, Others at 34%, and Ready to Eat Popcorn (RTE) at 4%.

IRI Liquid Data Salty Snacks Tl US Conv 52wks Ending 10.4.22
IRI Liquid Data Salty Snacks Tl US Conv 52wks Ending 10.4.22

There are several trends worth highlighting. First, according to Audrey Christensen from Kellogg’s, “Consumers are increasingly eating smaller meals and snacking throughout the day instead of the consuming the traditional three meals a day as people continue to work from home. Meals are no longer confined to specific times. Over half of consumers have changed their eating habits or meals in the past two years. Small meals are often eaten alone while full meals are viewed as a shared occasion. The majority of snacking occasions take place at home with Chips, Pretzels and Popcorn ranking as top snacks.”

Second, Dave Lippe with Acosta added that shoppers are more often reaching for larger pack types (greater than seven ounces), especially the ones that have a resealable package. Value versus price is on the forefront of shopper’s minds as inflation continues. Larger packed items can offer greater value to the shopper.

Third is coated Salty. Salty items that are covered in a sweet coating are having a small comeback. There has been some innovation in sweet popcorn that highlights this trend. This is something to keep your eye on as savory still leads significantly in Salty.

A fourth trend to watch is RTE Popcorn as it is seeing a 48% dollar growth in the last 26 weeks, according to Nielsen. McLane has shown a 58% growth in units.

After working the POG to remove lower performers and bring in innovation, the space to share is as follows: Chips/Pretzel/Rinds 52.8%, Other 38% and RTE popcorn 8.6%.

As you can see, this POG is a bit out of step with the share that we discussed earlier from Nielsen. As I stated with Seeds, we try to showcase brands and may extend the line further than needed to give the customer a choice. Another reason is that we are trying to shy away from any major supply chain issues that some items are having. As all manufacturers have had a struggle at some time or another in the last couple of years, McLane is striving to publish these POGs with items that will keep the shelves full. We will be watching the service levels and update the POGs as items not well represented come back to a healthy level.