Meat snacks: the next big thing in salty snacks?

Sales of meat snacks, the fourth-largest category in convenience stores, are growing faster than total snacks.1 They could be the next big thing in the supermarket salty-snacks aisle for many reasons:

• Consumers snacking more seek a protein health edge.
• The demographic for core category buyers is expanding to include older males, and that brings with it more cross-merchandising opportunities with cold beverages.
• Meat-snacks sales are incremental and help food stores build baskets.
• Meat snacks are high impulse purchases that sell on display at full margin. They are among the top sell-through items at check stands, and they provide treat and gift opportunities during Christmas and Easter.
• Flavor expansion is building new trial, growing the user base, and mimicking the successful path of new flavor introductions elsewhere in the salty-snacks aisle.

Retailers can leverage a category with already booming sales. Dollar sales of meat snacks overall rose 10.1% to $363.3 million in food, drug and mass merchandiser stores (excluding Wal-Mart) during the 52 weeks ended July 24, 2011. Behind these gains: dollar sales of jerky items were up 9.6% to $230.1 million, and meat sticks jumped 13.0% to $112.2 million. These growth rates generally exceeded those of convenience stores. 2

Meat snacks appeal to heavy-snacking households with teens of both genders:  boys under 18 consume 23.2% of meat snacks, girls under 18 consume 16.7%.3 While adult males 18 and over are the biggest purchasers, a growing component is older male's age 25-34 who index at 217 on a scale where 100 is average.

As a result, supermarkets have opportunities to build more full-margin impulse sales by displaying meat snacks with more kinds of chilled beverages. This strategy is effective because people eat meat snacks throughout the day, primarily away from home—traveling (30.1%), at work (18.1%), outdoors (7.0%) and at school (6.7%).4

The ConAgra Foods Slim Jim brand is America's #1 meat stick, with eight of the top 10 turning items5 available in popular flavors such as Original, Tabasco, Nacho and Honey BBQ.  It has grown 21.0% versus a year ago—twice the category advance—and it commands a 62.0% category share.6 Slim Jim is expanding its flavor platform to drive more consumer demand. (See more details in the following story.)


1 Source: SymphonyIRI Group All-Scan C-Store Reviews, 52 weeks ended March 27, 2011.
2 Source: Symphony IRI Group.
3,4 Source: The NPD Group Snack Track Database, data for two years ending September 2009.
5,6 Source: SymphonyIRI Group, Convenience, 52 weeks ending June 12, 2011.