Snacks – From Classic to Contemporary, There’s Something for Everyone
By Meline Beach
Whether your customers are commuting to and from work, grazing all day while working from home or binge-watching television, snacking is a popular eating behaviour with most people partaking two to three times a day. Even during these challenging times imposed by a global pandemic, the snack category continues to thrive. Convenience stores and gas stations host a wide variety of snacks for every craving and every lifestyle. From fruity flavours and wholesome nuts to new proteins and classic crunch, there’s something for everyone.
Fruit and Veggie
Dehydrated fruit, packed with sweet flavour, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, makes a great snack for consumers of all ages. Based out of Calgary, Alberta with ingredients and manufacturing facilities in Vietnam, Oh! Naturals satisfies sweet, salty, and crunchy cravings with their wholesome fruit and vegetable snacks. Packaged in 100-gram bags, Oh! Naturals’ banana chips are available in three flavours: natural, chocolate and strawberry. Their sweet potato fries, packaged in 80-gram bags are available in mesquite BBQ, chili and lime or salt and pepper. Both product lines are made from ripe fruit and vegetables and have a shelf life of one year.
“Oh! Naturals was created to make a difference in people’s lives as a fun and functional snack food,” says Oh! Naturals President Rhonda Goldberg, who founded the company based on her own childhood experience of food allergies, sensitivities, and life-supporting dietary needs. “Our snacks are made with whole fruit and vegetables through a unique vacuum-frying process that preserves nutrients while maximizing flavour, freshness, nutritional value and crunch.”
Goldberg has plans to expand her flavour offerings to include sweet and spicy banana chips as well as jackfruit banana chips – featuring a fruit native to tropical Asia. Currently sold at select grocers and 7-Eleven’s across Canada, Oh! Naturals is also available online www.oh-naturals.com
Nuts are a healthy snack option that serves as a good source of fibre and protein.
The Wonderful Company, based out of California, sells snack size pistachios under its brand Wonderful Pistachios. This plant-based protein snack boasts six grams of protein in every serving. Pistachios are naturally cholesterol free and have various health benefits, including fibre. They are part of many well-studied healthy eating patterns.
Grown in California’s Central Valley, Wonderful Pistachios No Shells brand serves as an easy-to-eat, already-shelled snack solution and are available in 225-200-gram snack bags across a variety of flavours, including roasted salt and pepper; sweet chili, lightly salted; sea salt and vinegar; bbq; and honey roasted – the first two being the most popular flavours.
Currently distributed by Core-mark Canada, Wonderful Pistachios are sold at select C&G retailers across Canada with plans for expanded distribution in 2021. The Wonderful Company offers marketing and public relations support to drive consumers to retailers for purchase. Merchandising displays for Wonderful Pistachios have a small footprint and are suited for placement at the checkout.
After eight years in product development, GORP Clean Energy Bars hit store shelves in the summer of 2012. Based out of Manitoba, GORP World’s best-selling products include The Best Little Peanuts in the World, New Hazelnut Coffee Crunch Protein Balls and new GORP Protein Chips in sea salt, dill pickle, and sour cream and onion flavours.
“Our top selling GORP Clean Energy Bar is cocoa, flax and almond, followed by peanut butter and raspberry,” says Sarah Hunt, sales and purveyor of fun at GORP World. “Peanut butter and apple also have dedicated fans, too.”
In Manitoba, GORP products are available at most grocery and health food stores, as well as some gas stations and speciality stores. While products are also available online at www.gorpworld.com and through Superior Harvest and Pratts wholesale distributors, the company can ship to any C&G retailer across Canada and has plans to expand its product offering throughout the country.
With an average profit margin of 35 per cent off a suggested retail price of $2.75 to $2.99 for GORP Bars, Hunt suggests a ‘starter set’ for retailers new to their products.
“The starter kit features a small amount of everything to see what customers like best,” says Hunt. “Plus, there are no minimum orders except for our Protein Chips – which right now come in six flavours, so two jars of each would work well.”
Hunt adds, “GORP is always happy to work with retailers with in-store promotions and sales. We have GORP floor displays available free of charge with any purchase.” In terms of innovation, GORP has plans to launch new flavours of their Protein Chips, as well as some new exciting product launches soon. “It is our passion to create snacks that are better for you, with honest ingredients and that actually taste good,” says Hunt.
PepsiCo has a great portfolio of snack foods, ranging from pretzels, crackers and rice cakes to tortilla, potato, pita, and cheese flavoured chips, not to mention its Quaker products. “Innovation is always a key pillar of growth for PepsiCo and new skus create excitement and trial,” says Scott Stewart, senior director, Region Sales Development at PepsiCo Foods Canada. “When it comes to the best sellers in the C&G channel, the classics are always our top performers with Doritos Nacho and Lays Classic typically #1 and #2 respectively.” Not one to rest on its laurels, PepsiCo Foods Canada is always innovating. The company has seen incredible growth in recent years in the hard bite potato category. As a result, they’ve expanded their Miss Vickies brand to include new flavours, such as spicy dill pickle and their new Ruffles Double Crunch – a deep-cut ridged chip that’s kettle cooked to crunchy perfection. Changing consumer demographics also drive flavour innovations – with spice being a current trend.
“Our core spicy skus like Doritos Sweet Chili Heat have become some of our best sellers and we continue to innovate with our Flamin Hot skus,” says Stewart. “At PepsiCo, we are committed to working with our network of experts, including our consumer insights and internal R&D teams to develop innovations that our consumers will love.
While several of PepsiCo’s innovations have lasted the test of time, many of their products are offered on a seasonal or special occasion basis to help drive excitement.“In addition to our core flavour offerings for each brand that are available throughout the year, we do create new and seasonal offerings,” says Stewart. “We also have a rotation of fan-favourite flavours that return for a limited time – like Doritos Ketchup. In PepsiCo’s experience, consumers enjoy the novelty of limited-time flavour offerings to add some special treats to their usual snacking choices.”
PepsiCo understands that properly merchandised products are the key to maximizing the snack category and recommend that salty snacks are merchandised within six feet of the cash register, especially single serve snacks as they are often an impulse buy. Salty snacks are often best consumed with a beverage, so having them located close to beverage coolers will increase their visibility. As an added measure of sales success, snack sized potato chips make a great side order to any sandwich combo for C&G locations with an in-house foodservice program.
In terms of insights on the snack food category, PepsiCo Foods Canada has noticed a growing trend in consumers’ use of ecommerce services, including click and collect and home delivery, such as Uber Eats and DoorDash.
“The growth potential is enormous and we’re seeing a surge on snack foods in particular,” says Stewart.
The company has also noticed several different taste preferences across the country. In the Maritime provinces, Doritos Zesty is the top Doritos flavour, and in British Columbia and Alberta, the company has seen tremendous growth with their Miss
Vickies brand Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar kettle cooked chips surpassing Lays Classic as the second-best seller. Wherever they live, whatever their lifestyle, and however they crave, consumers have plenty of choice when it comes to snacks – be it something fruit and veggie, nutty, new, or classic – the options in the C&G channel are limitless.
Meline Beach is a Toronto-based communications practitioner and frequent contributor to Convenience & Carwash Canada. In addition to freelance writing, Meline provides communications and public relations support to businesses across Canada. She can be reached at www.mlbcomms.ca