Nuts and seeds satisfy too many of Americans’ basic needs—starting with health and convenience—for the brisk sales they are enjoying to slow down any time soon.
“People are looking for healthier food,” said John Tomlinson, director of purchasing and merchandising for Duchess Shoppes, in Heath, Ohio, which operates 123 Duchess Shoppes. “That’s why they are heading into the nuts and the seeds. I look forward to continued growth.”
Snack nut sales in c-stores increased 7.48% to $482.26 million, according to Information Resources Inc. for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 29, 2013. The steady stream of product introductions and line extensions, many from suppliers like Blue Diamond, David’s and Planters will continue to excite new and existing customers alike. Duchess Shoppes carry about 30 SKUs of nuts and seeds in their four-foot sections.
“I think the category will continue to grow,” suggested Phil Sutton, category manager for ALON Brands, in Odessa, Texas. “You have the standard consumer who will continue on with the core line of items, while other people are looking for more of a select item. That will continue, kind of like a sub category,” he said.
Manufacturers can be expected to maintain their high profile approach to marketing their brands, Sutton predicted. “Many national brands are now targeting men’s and women’s health magazines for a lot of the upscale market. That will help drive new sales across a growing demographic,” he said. Going forward, traditional nut and seed consumers will increasingly be joined by women and seniors, who are generally health-minded shoppers. “I don’t have specific demographic information, but I would think it would be across all different demographic categories—from the working guy buying the full-fledged core items to more females who are looking at that,” Sutton said. “Then there are the people who are of mature ages, who are probably more selective, and have a greater tendency to go through the components of an item before they buy it.”
Indeed, seeds and nuts will continue to enjoy exceptionally broad appeal across a variety of demographic groups. “I think the consumer could be anyone really,” Tomlinson said, from kids and men who play baseball to women who want to eat healthy. Convenience is a plus for on-the-go consumers, too, he added. “A lot of people like the nuts as a quick snack.” Convenience retailers who closely track sales numbers will inevitably choose to put some marketing muscle behind the category, Tomlinson said.
Convenience store operators can also be expected to increasingly follow ALON’s lead in tying seeds and nuts to other healthful product categories, such as foodservice. Sutton noted, “Many have benefits like being gluten-free, low-sugar and low-sodium. That alone opens the door to a host of new customers.” ◆
Planting the Seeds for New Sales
The market for snack nuts has remained fairly level for a decade. Snack food nuts have strong competition from potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, and microwave popcorn for the nation’s snack dollars, but popularity of this industry category has remained high. The snack nut and seed industry has handled its competition by introducing new varieties—most notably spicy and pickled—of seeds and nuts.
Sales % Change
Unit Sales % Change
Total Sunflower/Pumpkin Seeds
Frito Lay Flamas
Thanasi Foods (Jim Beam)
Source: Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Total U.S. Convenience AllScan, 52 Weeks Ended Dec. 29, 2013