Strong Forecast for Meat Snacks in 2011

Meat snacks had a robust 2010 at U.S. convenience stores, bringing in a total dollar volume of $859,071,196, according to Nielsen Co. data for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 22, 2011, up 4.8% from the previous year.
The top products driving the meat snacks category for the year in dollar volume were traditional sticks at $275,807,825 (up 12.6%), steak snacks at $116,026,585 (up 7.4%) and traditional jerky which fell slightly to $335,469,929 (down 0.3%).

Also according to Nielsen for the same 52 weeks, Jack Link’s had the leading dollar volume among brands at $402,349,445, up 9.7%, followed by Slim Jim at $203,442,587, up 5.7% and Matador at $50,695,598, up 108.6%.

Total dollar volume for bags of meat snacks sold was $372,595,616 for the period and fell 1%.
The Snack Food Association (SFA) noted that the prevalence of meat snacks has grown a great deal as the market has expanded in recent years, and now different regions are experiencing favorites from other areas.

“Traditionally pork rinds have been more of a Southeastern snack, and they continue to expand throughout the country. Jerky is more of a Western-type snack, but you’re seeing that expand more in the Southeast. So you’re seeing more people from alternate coasts enjoying both products,” said Christopher Clark, SFA’s vice president of operations and membership.

Finding Shelf Space
As the market grows, more brands are vying for shelf space at c-stores. “Among the trends we’re seeing at the store level is a huge influx of private label meat snacks—from the sticks to the jerky. This is a category where we’ve been inundated with new, local suppliers saying, ‘Hey can I show you my product? Can we do a trial at your stores?’” said Kelly Chartré, sales and marketing manager for Express Convenience Centers, which operates 19 convenience stores in Wisconsin and has three additional franchise locations. “We don’t want to over-SKU our stores, but we have been adding some of those new brands.”

While the local brands aren’t driving sales like national brands, Chartré finds that if the local brand does a promotion within the store they sell pretty well. “A lot of the time the advantage is they’re a lower retail point for our guests, and if they market to let people know it’s a local brand, that does help drive the product,” she said.

Chartré noted that meat snacks companies are continuing to roll out new and innovative flavors and she expects to see this continue in 2011, but she added that the new flavors are novelties that only attract short-term attention from customers, and at the end of the day the basic flavors like Original and Teriyaki are what she expects to continue driving sales.

Now that the economy is slowly turning around, Chartré anticipates an  overall uptick in meat snack sales for the coming year. “Customers will start spending money again on things they enjoy having as the economy picks up, and meat snacks is one of those categories that is traditionally a little more expensive, so we expect them to be coming back to some of those favorite snacks that they’ve avoided.”

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