December 11, 2017
While traditional snacking profiles still sway the meat snack category, America’s propensity for different options is spurring more variety.
It wasn’t that long ago that offers of meat snacks didn’t have a lot of variety to choose from—making for a category without much spice. That can make for a static category. However, as snack manufacturers are launching new flavors and product lines to capture consumers’ imagination convenience stores are capturing more meat snack sales.
The average U.S. consumer enjoys meat snacks about 10 times a year—significantly more than the eight times that consumers were purchasing meat snacks in 2012, said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for the NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm.
“That increase actually makes it one of the fastest-growing savory snacks out there,” said Seifer. “Savory snack foods are growing as consumers become increasingly concerned about their sugar consumption.”
Meat snacks fit well within that trend, including the popularity of such brands as Slim Jim and Jack Link’s.
Consumer research firm Mintel Group Ltd. found one of the most notable innovations in the category is the launch of higher-quality meat snacks in response to customer interest.
A Mintel survey conducted this past summer indicated 41% of consumers would like to see more meat snacks made from premium meat cuts. Twenty-eight percent of those polled found appealing the idea of grass-fed meat snacks and almost as high a percentage—26%—like the notion of preservative-free products. Along with these trends has come growth in the number of meat snacks free of additives like hormones, and the number claiming humanely-raised ingredients.
Another noteworthy trend is that more than a quarter of consumers surveyed (27%) expressed an interest in purchasing meat snack bars, according to Mintel.
While traditional meat snack offerings still have the upper hand at Portland, Ore.-based Plaid Pantry, the growth of new meat snack options has been steady, said Tim Cote, Plaid Pantry’s vice president of marketing.
“The consumer profile varies a bit by brand,” said Cote. “Many of the newer entries into the market have flavor profiles and bite types that appeal to a broader base of customers than the more established brands. Many of the older bands are more male dominated. And while they pull sales from all age groups, the newer brands do skew a bit younger.”
Seifer agreed that meat snack purveyors are responding to snack fans’ desire to try something new.
“Consumers are always asking, ‘What else do you have for me?’” said Seifer. “So it’s not a surprise more flavors are being introduced. While the traditional flavor was cured beef, now we’re seeing habanero and sriracha. A lot of the new flavors I’m seeing are about spiciness and boldness, and giving the snack a new kick.”