Progressive Grocer

MAR 2017

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March 2017 | | 49 Snacking Solutions Grocery Mixing it Up Strategic merchandising can drive occasion sales for innovative snack products. By Jim Dudlicek I t's no secret that snacks are meals now. Changing consumer habits have transformed the old 21-meals-a-week model into 14 meals plus 14 to 21 snacks, as Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI), noted at the trade group's recent Midwinter Executive Conference, in Scottsdale, Ariz. So, in their ongoing mission to turn center store from a drag to a destination, retailers need to tap the many opportunities within. Elite Meat With strong growth in the trail mix segment and growing demand for protein snacks, combining the two shows great potential. Meat-laced trail mixes are gaining traction, Chicago-based market researcher Mintel notes in its June 2016 "Nuts, Seeds and Trail Mix US" report. "ese products frequently contain high-protein claims and simple ingredients, both of which are especially important to consumers," Mintel notes. "Strong innovation in the trail mix segment, includ- ing segment-blurring products like meat snack trail mix, will help the segment evolve." Mintel does acknowledge that current interest is low due to their niche nature, but strategic position- ing of products from several companies could boost trial and usage. Among them is disruptor Dick Ste- vens, which claims to be the first brand to combine jerky and trail mix. "Most of the category buyers we talk to are excited about our brand," says Christopher Neil, VP of sales for Charlotte, N.C.-based Dick Stevens Jerky Trail Mix. "We support our growth in the retail vein with in-store demos, temporary price reductions and advertisement, as well as through social media. is consumer engagement is vital with a new product." Dick Stevens Original Blend Beef Jerky Mix of- fers lightly seasoned beef jerky, raw almonds, macadamia nuts, cranberries and dried blueberries. Because the product stands apart from the singular categories of jerky and trail mix, placement in either set is complementary, "generating add-on sales for each category," Neil explains. Other such products include General Mills' Epic Hunt & Harvest Mix, combining beef or pork with nuts and dried fruits; Tanka Trail Turkey & Buf- falo Jerky with Cranberries and Mango Pepper Trail Mix; and Oberto Trail Mix in Original Beef, Spicy Sweet Beef and Teriyaki Chicken. With savory snack category sales projected to reach $45.9 billion after 2.8 percent growth over the past five years, according to Euromonitor Interna- tional, legacy brands are leveraging demand for pro- tein snacks, like Jack Link's, which has added pork, chicken and turkey jerkies to its lineup, along with Small Batch Bacon Jerky and trendy flavors like srira- cha, and Conagra Brands' Slim Jim Turkey Sticks in Original, Barbecue and Habanero flavors. "We are seeing spicier flavor innovation captur- ing the Millennial consumer, and we're giving our teen consumers new ways to challenge themselves with extreme options like Habanero," says Adam "We are seeing spicier flavor innovation capturing the Millennial consumer, and we're giving our teen consumers new ways to challenge themselves with extreme options like Habanero." —Adam Beane, Conagra Brands

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