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Salty Snacks - US - January 2015

“As consumers continue to snack more frequently on salty snacks and other options, manufacturers will be tasked with meeting their varying need states. While some consumers look for BFY snacks, the top reasons for buying salty snacks are as a treat or to satisfy a craving, indicating there is room in the market for both healthy and indulgent salty snacks.” – Amanda Topper, Food Analyst

This report answers the following key questions:

  • How will increased snacking occasions impact the category?
  • What impact do health concerns have?
  • What motivates consumers to buy salty snacks and how can this create new opportunities for the category?

The salty snacks category grew 15% from 2009-14 and is expected to grow an additional 21% from 2014-19, benefiting from the increase in Americans snacking more often. While some remain concerned about the ingredients and nutritional value of salty snacks, others agree healthier options are available. Taste and indulgence are main purchase drivers, highlighting consumers’ desire to treat themselves, despite interest in BFY (better-for-you) snacks. As other food and beverage categories enter the snacking space, manufacturers must promote the unique benefits of their products, including their variety of flavors and formats, convenience, taste, and affordability.


Mintel here provides a comprehensive analysis of the following factors that have the greatest potential to impact the category’s performance:

  • Market drivers for the category including understanding consumers’ motivations for purchasing salty snacks and how those motivations differ by snack type.
  • The role of health in the category and consumer health concerns related to these products, as well as key product attributes consumers look for when purchasing salty snacks.
  • Opportunities for category growth including playing into the snacking and portability trend, and meeting consumer demand for BFY items, while also allowing them to indulge.
  • Consumer behaviors and attitudes related to salty snacks, including consumption habits, nutritional concerns, and purchase behavior.

Excluded from this report are chips, including potato chips and tortilla chips, snack nuts, and dips. Chips and dips are covered in Mintel’s Chips, Salsa & Dips – US, January 2015 report.


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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Consumer survey data
              • Abbreviations and terms
                • Abbreviations
                • Executive Summary

                    • The market
                      • Salty snack sales forecast to reach $6.8 billion in 2019
                        • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of salty snacks, at current prices, 2009-19
                      • Cheese snacks, popcorn drive category growth
                        • Figure 2: Total US retail sales of salty snacks, by segment, at current prices, 2012 and 2014
                      • Key players
                        • PepsiCo maintains market share by diversifying its snack offerings
                          • Figure 3: MULO sales of salty snacks, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2014
                        • The consumer
                          • Product innovation can hold consumer interest in category
                            • Figure 4: Household purchase of salty snacks, October 2014
                          • Emotional needs mainly driving salty snack purchases
                            • Figure 5: Reasons for buying salty snacks, October 2014
                          • Younger consumers’ snacking habits vital to category growth
                            • Figure 6: Behaviors related to salty snacks, top five, October 2014
                          • Consumers concerned about nutrition, ingredients
                            • Figure 7: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, top five, October 2014
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                              • How will increased snacking occasions impact the category?
                                • Issues
                                  • Insight: Nutritious, portable snacks will be in greater demand
                                    • What impact do health concerns have?
                                      • Issues
                                        • Insight: Health is top of mind for consumers, but so is indulgence
                                          • What motivates consumers to buy salty snacks and how can this create new opportunities for the category?
                                            • Issues
                                              • Insight: Emotional and functional drivers should align with product attributes
                                              • Trend Applications

                                                  • Trend: Mood to Order
                                                    • Trend: Factory Fear
                                                      • Trend: Play Ethic
                                                      • Market Size and Forecast

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Sales and forecast of salty snacks
                                                            • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of salty snacks, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                            • Figure 9: Total US sales and forecast of salty snacks, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2009-19
                                                          • Salty snack sales forecast to reach $6.8 billion in 2019
                                                            • Figure 10: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of salty snacks, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                          • Forecast methodology
                                                          • Market Drivers

                                                            • Key points
                                                              • More Americans are snacking
                                                                • Figure 11: Agreement with attitudes toward food, April 2008-June 2014
                                                              • Health concerns are top of mind but the category still growing
                                                                • Figure 12: Agreement with attitudes toward food, April 2008-June 2014
                                                            • Competitive Context

                                                              • Key points
                                                                • Increase in snacking heats up the competition
                                                                  • Figure 13: Snacks eaten in past six months – Any consumption, top five, November 2013
                                                                • Foodservice offerings satisfy cravings away from home
                                                                  • Subscription snacking expands options
                                                                  • Segment Performance

                                                                    • Key points
                                                                      • Cheese snacks, popcorn drive category growth
                                                                        • Sales of salty snacks, by segment
                                                                          • Figure 14: Total US retail sales of salty snacks, by segment, at current prices, 2012 and 2014
                                                                        • Cheese snack sales grow 13% from 2009-14
                                                                          • Sales and forecast of cheese snacks
                                                                            • Figure 15: Total US retail sales and forecast of cheese snacks, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                                          • Popcorn to grow 34% from 2014-19
                                                                            • Sales and forecast of popcorn
                                                                              • Figure 16: Total US retail sales and forecast of popcorn, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                                            • Small, steady growth ahead for pretzel segment
                                                                              • Sales and forecast of pretzels
                                                                                • Figure 17: Total US retail sales and forecast of pretzels, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                                            • Retail Channels

                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                • Supermarket sales grow 8% from 2012-14
                                                                                  • Figure 18: Target “Made to Matter” TV Ad: September 2014
                                                                                • Sales of salty snacks, by channel
                                                                                  • Figure 19: Total US retail sales of salty snacks, by channel, at current prices, 2012 and 2014
                                                                                • Natural channel sales grow 38% from 2012-14
                                                                                  • Figure 20: Natural supermarket sales of popcorn, pretzels, and puffed snacks, at current prices, rolling 52 weeks 2012-2014
                                                                                • Organic sales grow 12% from 2012-14
                                                                                  • Figure 21: Natural supermarket sales of organic popcorn, pretzels, and puffed snacks, by segment, at current prices, rolling 52 weeks 2012 and 2014
                                                                                • Gluten-free salty snack sales grow 66%
                                                                                  • Figure 22: Natural supermarket sales of gluten-free* popcorn, pretzels, and puffed snacks, by segment, at current prices, rolling 52 weeks 2012 and 2014
                                                                                • Non-GMO popcorn sales grow 208% in natural supermarkets
                                                                                  • Figure 23: Natural supermarket sales of non-GMO popcorn, pretzels, and puffed snacks, by segment, at current prices, rolling 52 weeks 2012 and 2014
                                                                              • Leading Companies and Brand Analysis

                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                  • PepsiCo maintains market share by diversifying its snack offerings
                                                                                    • Manufacturer sales of salty snacks
                                                                                      • Figure 24: MULO sales of salty snacks, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2013 and 2014
                                                                                    • Strong growth for RTE brands
                                                                                      • Figure 25: “The Pop Dongle by Pop Secret: The First-Ever Smellable Mobile Game,” December 2013
                                                                                    • Manufacturer sales of popcorn
                                                                                      • Figure 26: MULO sales of popcorn, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2013 and 2014
                                                                                    • Cheetos dominates the cheese snacks segment
                                                                                        • Figure 27: “Cheetos Present Los Cheetahs vs Los Jefes,” November 2014
                                                                                      • Manufacturer sales of cheese snacks
                                                                                        • Figure 28: MULO sales of cheese snacks, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2013 and 2014
                                                                                      • Private label pretzel sales grow 14%
                                                                                        • Figure 29: “Snyder’s of Hanover Sweet and Salty Pretzel Pieces,” February 2014
                                                                                        • Figure 30: Rold Gold “House of Gold Trailer,” March 2014
                                                                                      • Manufacturer sales of pretzels
                                                                                        • Figure 31: MULO sales of pretzels, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2013 and 2014
                                                                                    • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                                      • Pretzel product launches on the rise
                                                                                        • Figure 32: Salty snack product launches, by subcategory, 2009-14*
                                                                                        • Figure 33: Salty snack product launches, by launch type, 2009-14*
                                                                                      • Private label launches grow
                                                                                        • Figure 34: Salty snack product launches, by private label, 2009-14*
                                                                                      • Health claims increasingly prevalent
                                                                                          • Figure 35: Salty snack product launches, by top 10 claims, 2009-14*
                                                                                        • Spicy and indulgent flavors keep snacking fun
                                                                                          • Skinny and mini
                                                                                          • Household Purchase

                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                              • Product innovation can hold consumer interest in category
                                                                                                • Figure 36: Household purchase of salty snacks (nets), October 2014
                                                                                                • Figure 37: Household purchase of salty snacks, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                              • iGeneration/Millennials most likely to buy all types of salty snacks
                                                                                                • Figure 38: Household purchase of salty snacks, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                              • Households with children more likely to buy salty snacks
                                                                                                • Figure 39: Household purchase of salty snacks, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                            • Reasons for Buying

                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                • Emotional needs mainly driving salty snack purchases
                                                                                                  • Figure 40: Reasons for buying salty snacks, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                • iGeneration/Millennials more likely to snack to replace meals
                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Reasons for buying salty snacks, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                              • Important Attributes

                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                  • Younger consumers looking for convenient, portioned packaging
                                                                                                    • Figure 42: Important attributes when buying salty snacks, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                  • Households with children prefer variety packs, individual portions
                                                                                                    • Figure 43: Important attributes when buying salty snacks, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                • Important Characteristics

                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                    • Flavor options a key driver for pretzels, popcorn purchases
                                                                                                        • Figure 44: Important characteristics when buying salty snacks, October 2014
                                                                                                      • iGeneration/Millennials look for a variety of popcorn flavors
                                                                                                        • Figure 45: Important characteristics when buying salty snacks – Popcorn, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                      • Men prefer sweet and salty, spicy cheese snacks
                                                                                                        • Figure 46: Important characteristics when buying salty snacks – Cheese-flavored snacks, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                    • Behaviors Related to Salty Snacks

                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                        • Younger consumers’ snacking habits vital to category growth
                                                                                                            • Figure 47: Behaviors related to salty snacks, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                        • Attitudes toward Salty Snacks

                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                            • Consumers concerned about nutrition, ingredients
                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                            • 25-34s most brand loyal, prefer indulgent, premium varieties
                                                                                                              • Figure 49: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                          • Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                              • Hispanics more likely to buy popcorn, pretzels, and cheese snacks
                                                                                                                • Figure 50: Household purchase of salty snacks, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Reasons for buying salty snacks, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Packaging, natural ingredients more important to Hispanics
                                                                                                                • Figure 52: Important attributes when buying salty snacks, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Hispanics buying more snacks, and higher quality items
                                                                                                                • Figure 53: Behaviors related to salty snacks, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Hispanics most brand loyal
                                                                                                                • Figure 54: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Consumer Segmentation

                                                                                                                  • Figure 55: Salty snack clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                • Group one: Savvy Snackers
                                                                                                                  • Demographics
                                                                                                                    • Characteristics
                                                                                                                      • Opportunities
                                                                                                                        • Group two: Seldom Snackers
                                                                                                                          • Demographics
                                                                                                                            • Characteristics
                                                                                                                              • Opportunities
                                                                                                                                • Group three: Sensible Snackers
                                                                                                                                  • Demographics
                                                                                                                                    • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                      • Opportunities
                                                                                                                                        • Cluster characteristic tables
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 56: Target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 57: Household purchase of salty snacks, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 58: Purchase of salty snacks for self, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 59: Reasons for buying salty snacks, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 60: Important attributes when buying salty snacks, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 61: Behaviors related to salty snacks, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 62: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Cluster demographic table
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 63: Target clusters, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                                                            • Figure 64: Household purchase of salty snacks, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 65: Household purchase of salty snacks, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 66: Household purchase of salty snacks, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 67: Purchase of salty snacks for self, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 68: Purchase of salty snacks for self, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 69: Purchase of salty snacks for self, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 70: Purchase of salty snacks for self, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 71: Type of pretzels eaten by household, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2013-June 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 72: Reasons for buying salty snacks, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 73: Reasons for buying salty snacks, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 74: Reasons for buying salty snacks, by household snack purchase, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 75: Important attributes when buying salty snacks, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 76: Important attributes when buying salty snacks, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 77: Important characteristics when buying salty snacks – Pretzels, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 78: Behaviors related to salty snacks, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 79: Behaviors related to salty snacks, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 80: Behaviors related to salty snacks, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 81: Behaviors related to salty snacks, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 82: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 83: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 84: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 85: Agreement with attitudes toward salty snacks – Any agree, by household snack purchase, October 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                          Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                          • American Pop Corn Company
                                                                                                                                          • ConAgra Foods, Inc
                                                                                                                                          • Diamond Foods, Inc.
                                                                                                                                          • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                          • National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (NBC)
                                                                                                                                          • PepsiCo Inc
                                                                                                                                          • Snyder's of Hanover
                                                                                                                                          • Twitter, Inc.
                                                                                                                                          • Utz Quality Foods Inc.
                                                                                                                                          • Walmart Stores (USA)
                                                                                                                                          • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                                          Salty Snacks - US - January 2015

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