"We look at our $2.7bn snacks business as a continued source of fabulous growth for Conagra overall," Raine told FoodNavigator-USA ahead of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show in Chicago this week, where the company is debuting several new product innovations under its Slim Jim brand, the company's largest snack brand in its portfolio.
"I think the single biggest consumer insight that's fueling meat snack growth is consumers looking for more protein in their diet," noted Raine, adding how Conagra is furthering answer that call with an extension of its Slim Jim Savage line, essentially a 'King-sized' version of Slim Jim (about the same length but 3x the diameter) weighing in at 3oz with 18g of protein per stick.
"You think about candy bars of people looking for more food, a bigger more satiating experience with a King-size option, and we played that the same card here, and we saw over $30m in retail sales its first year in the marketplace," said Raine.
'Spicy snacks are growing twice as fast as overall snacking'
Conagra is building on the success of its Savage line by introducing a new spicy flavor.
"Spicy snacks are growing twice as fast as overall snacking, and so we think a spicy version of savage will be fantastic," said Raine.
The company is also rolling out other options for the meat snack consumer including its Slim Jim Original ‘n Cheese Big Boss, a combination of meat and cheese in a stick format delivering 13g of protein per package.
"If you think about the growth that snack kits have seen over the last five years, this is another version of kit," said Raine.
Slim Jim is the #1 impulse meat snack brand
The company is debuting its Monster Short Boy stick containing the same amount of meat as the brand's giant stick but roughly half the length and twice the width, which opens up the opportunity for Conagra to merchandise the products in checkout aisles next to candy bars where the brand can capture more impulse snack purchases, noted Raine.
"[Original] Slim Jims are fantastic, but they're they're long and come in vertical caddies and sometimes at the front end there's not a great place to put something like that," explained Raine.
"We've got really interesting data from IRI that shows that Slim Jim is the #1 impulse meat snack brand. So, if you're going to use some space at the front end to support a meat snack there's nothing you can put out there that's going to turn better than a Slim Jim," added Raine.
"This gives retailers an option to capitalize on the really impulsive nature of of of Slim Jim consumers."
Speaking of the meat snacks category more broadly, Raine noted how Conagra is positioned to win in all sub-segments, not just with Slim Jim but in premium with its Duke's brand (acquired in 2017) and Gardein, the top-selling plant-based jerky in the convenience channel, according to IRI sales data.
'Salty snacks continues to be a strength of ours'
Outside of the company's well-developed meat snacks portfolio, Raine shared how the company's salty snack set including brands such as ACT II and Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP (acquired in 2017) has driven strong growth for the company.
"Salty snacks continues to be a strength of ours," said Raine.
The company will be debuting a ready-to-eat version of its ACT II popconn brand as well as Hot Beer Battered Onion Rings under the Andy's Capp's brand.
According to Raine, while some areas of the snacking category struggled amid the pandemic, the overall megatrend of consumers snacking more often hasn't gone anywhere and won't any time soon, he said.
"We didn't see anything structurally change in respect to the long-term trends we've been watching on snacks, which is that snacking growth continues to outpace total edible," said Raine, adding that Conagra will continue to look at ways to bring new innovation to its portfolio.
"We began our snacking journey a little over three years ago, we've made a lot of great progress, and now we're one of the fastest-growing major snacking companies in America," said Raine.