In addition, other salty snacks experienced recession-fuelled sales jumps. The tortilla chip market increased by 18% since 2007, while smaller segments such as popcorn and cheese snacks saw similar gains (17% and 20%, respectively).
Now that economic recovery is starting to take hold, however, Mintel expects sales increases to taper. Over the next five years, potato chip sales are expected to rise just above 3% annually, while tortilla chip sales should increase just above 4%.
“People bought more chips during the recession because they’re good value,” explains Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel. “As the economy gets stronger, we expect annual sales increases to slow, but we don’t expect markets to contract. New product innovations and the changed eating habits of many Americans will keep shoppers headed towards the snack aisle.”
Mintel’s Global New Product Database (GNPD) has already tracked more than 350 new, salty snack launches in the US this year.
It’s not the most healthy habit, but according to Mintel, 50% of kids, teens and 18-24s say they eat salty snacks five times a week or more. Even adults say they eat salty snacks 4.8 times per week on average – nearly once a day!
“Salty snacks are clearly embedded in American’s style of eating and they’re used by all ages as a way to curb hunger between meals or after dinner,” explains Haack. “But at the same time, there’s growing interest in healthier snack options.”
Mintel’s survey shows that two in three (65%) adults say they’re interested in healthier snacks, such as grain or baked varieties, while another 57% say they’re interested in healthier alternatives to salty snacks, such as pita chips or crackers. Admittedly, half of survey respondents confess they think lower fat/sodium snacks don’t taste as good as the originals.
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