Potato crisps bag top savoury snack

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The potato crisps market has seen a stable year for value at almost £950 million, but a decline in volume of 5% over the last year has dampened growth, according to Kantar (52 w/e 14 Jul 19). Despite this, in the last year, potato crisps were bought by 93% of households and accounted for 27% of potato value sales, although only 7% of volume sales at 141 thousand tonnes.

For latest potato retail data, see here https://potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/market-information-0/retail-market 

Crisps are the UK’s favourite savoury snack, according to Mintel. Research shows crisps are the third most popular snack overall, eaten by 60% of the population, only just missing out to chocolate and fruit, and beating British classics such as biscuits, cake and cheese.

When polled, 63% of UK adults try to eat healthily all or most of the time, demonstrating that, for most people, a healthy-eating mindset is ingrained. However, this becomes much less of a priority when it comes to snacks, with just 29% of crisps/savoury snack eaters saying they look for healthier types all or most of the time. This more relaxed attitude stems, in part, from people viewing snacking as a treat.

Despite the emergence of newer snacks, potato crisps are still the most popular with consumers, according to Mintel.

Which of the following have you eaten in the last three months?

Source: Mintel – Crisps, Savoury Snacks and Nuts Report – January 2019

Crisps flavour trends

There were over 400 different flavours of crisps sold in Britain within the last year, from the classic ready salted to exotic flavours like ‘Venison and Cranberry’. According to Kantar (52 w/e 16 Jun 19), the most popular flavour for crisps bought in supermarkets is ready salted, followed by meat-based flavours and cheese and/or onion. The diversity within these is huge, with over 75 variations of cheese and/or onion and over 120 for meat. These include more premium combinations like ‘Mature Devonshire Cheddar and Caramelised Red Onion’, ‘Vintage Cheddar with Onion Chutney’, ‘Crispy Bacon and Canadian Maple’ and ‘Chipotle BBQ Pulled Pork’. Despite also innovating in to premium ingredients such as ‘Cornish Sea Salt and West Country Cider Vinegar’, salt and vinegar has fallen behind its variety-pack companions.

Source: Kantar – Crisp flavours – 52 w/e 16 Jun 19

Crisps formats

For crisps on-the-go, meal deals are important. Meal deals are in growth year on year, but crisp sales are going against the market trend and decreased slightly in 2018, according to NPD crest. Crisps may have lost out to more innovative snacks, such as popcorn and cereal bars, and perceived healthier options, like nuts and fruit. Despite the decline, the meal deal is still important to crisps sales, with a third of crisps bought through deals and promotions.

For crisps bought for consumption in home, multi-pack options have 70% share of spend, according to Kantar (52 w/e 14 Jul 19). Sharing bags are the only format in spend growth, growing 2% on the previous year and increasing their market share to 26%. Sharing bags have seen 15% growth over five years. However, whether they are shared or eaten alone is up for debate.

New product development

There has been more new product development in the savoury snacking market, which has enticed consumers away from traditional crisps, including adding new bases, such as pea, lentil and rice, as well as more exotic flavours. Potato-based products will need to innovate to keep up with these new products, which are often viewed as healthier. Having healthy versions of crisps will appeal to those who are looking to cut back on fat, salt or calories.

Some brands are combining these trends. Kettle unveiled its latest innovation ‘Kettle &’ in April 2019. The range combines their classic potato chip with real slices of fruit or vegetables with added seasoning. ‘Kettle &’ is available in three flavours: sweet potato slices with smoked chipotle and crème fraîche seasoning; beetroot slices with goats’ cheese and caramelised onion seasoning; and apple slices with Norfolk pork sausage seasoning.

 Meanwhile, London-based cafe HipChips gained its first grocery listing in Sainsbury’s for its sweet and savoury crisps and dips sets in April 2019. The sweet kit comprises potato crisps dusted with cinnamon sugar with salted caramel, passion fruit and chocolate dips. 


 Seven in ten consumers view crisps/savoury snacks as a comfort food and the same number still enjoy the flavours they ate as a child, according to Mintel. However, we know consumers still like to try different and new crisps. The crisps market must continue to innovate to keep up with newer snacks. Although new flavours accounted for a quarter of all crisp flavours for the 52 weeks to 14 July 2019, they are only 2.5% of volume sales, according to Kantar, showing that it is difficult for new flavours to break in to the crisps market. Although health is less of a driver, many people are still looking for healthy ways to snack, so low-fat or low-salt options will appeal to health-conscious consumers. While different packaging or format options may appeal to those who are looking for something new but want to stick to flavours they know.

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