Customer Surge in Snacking

The dried meat snacks category overall (including jerky) celebrated a healthy 2009 ringing up more $872.48 million in total dollar sales, up about 1% compared to 2008. Unit sales, however, slipped 3% to 424.43 million for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2009, according to Information Resources (IRI) .

Breaking down the category by segment, jerky fell 3.7% with total dollar sales of $420.15 million. Unit sales, though, increased 0.5% to 124.51 million for the year.  Other dried meat snacks (see chart below) had dollar sales of $452.33 million for the year, up 5.6%. Unit sales were 299.925 million, down 4.6% over 2008.

At Express Convenience Centers, meat snack sales have been down due to the high cost of retail. The chain does a better business with sticks, which are less expensive than bags of jerky and offer customers the value they are seeking in 2010.

“We by far sell more of the smaller price point,” said Stacey Hagen, manager for Express Convenience Centers, which has 19 stores in Wisconsin. “We don’t do a whole lot with bags anymore. You can get a jerky stick or a piece of jerky for $1.49 or $2.49 where all the bags are between $3.79 and $6.49, so the price point is considerably higher given the economy.”

Salty Staying Steady
In 2010, retailers can expect customers to continue cutting costs due to the recession. As part of this trend, more customers are seeking at home entertainment options, which should benefit the salty and meat snacks category. According to Mintel International, the “other salty snacks” segment experienced recession-fueled sales growth between 2007 and 2009.

As the economic recovery starts to take hold in 2010, however, Mintel expects snack sales increases to taper. For example, customers bought more chips in the recession because of their good value, and while sales may slow as the economy rebounds, Mintel does not expect sales to contract. Looking at the next five years, potato chip sales are expected to rise just above 3% annually, while tortilla chip sales should increase just above 4%.

Another trend sees consumers looking to be more health conscious. The International Dairy Deli and Bakery Association (IDDBA) noted, if current trends continue, 86% of American adults will be overweight or obese by 2030 and childhood obesity rates could reach 40% by 2012. In response to growing waistlines, many consumers are heeding medical advice and paying closer attention to their diets. Health and wellness will be a significant driver of consumer behavior for the next decade. Sought after package health claims are whole grains, high fiber, low-fat, low sodium, absence of trans fats, and low sugar. Meat snacks are also a popular option for this customer group.

A recent Mintel survey also found 65% of adults are interested in healthier snacks, such as grain or baked varieties, while another 57% want healthier alternatives like pita chips. Still, 50%  think lower fat/sodium snacks don’t taste as good.


Top Dried meat snacks

BRAND SALES DOLLARS % Sales Change Unit sales Average Price
Total Dried Meat Snacks $452,333,200 5.58% 299,925,000 $1.51
Jack Links $176,169,400 9.31% 79,630,330 $2.21
Slim Jim $171,508,200 -1.99% 134,654,400 $1.27
Old Wisconsin $13,895,110 14.80% 8,768,157 $1.58
Jack Links All American $11,863,040 79.51% 8,993,740 $1.32
Jack Links X Stick $6,357,933 -28.65% 5,700,873 $1.12
Penrose Tijuana Mama $6,350,018 -22.84% 5,063,835 $1.25
Penrose Fire Cracker $6,032,145 -20.35% 4,978,223 $1.21
Penrose Big Mama $6,015,097 -17.04% 4,797,048 $1.25
Jack Links Matador $5,691,619 1.26% 6,724,643 $0.85

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