Snack and bakery items growing beyond inflation lean on adventurous, sophisticated flavors

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/Muslim Girl
Source: Getty/Muslim Girl

Related tags Snacks Bakery Baked goods Iri Inflation

Like most grocery categories, sales of snack and bakery products are up over the last year in line with inflation, but units are down slightly across omni channel and brick and mortar as consumers look to hold their grocery budgets in check in the face of rising prices, according to IRI data.

However, there are some bright spots, including among products with flavors that are more adventurous, paired in unexpected ways and more sophisticated or specific, Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive VP and practice leader for IRI, revealed during a recent webinar hosted by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery.

She explained that the $92b snack and bakery product universe saw sales growth driven primarily from inflation with an 11.8% increase in dollar in brick and mortar and 12.6% in omnichannel in the 12 months ending Oct. 30.

These figures closely mirrored price increases, including an 11.6% year-over-year increase in the price of cereals and baked goods in July last year that our sister publication, Bakery And Snacks​, notes likely is related to the fast-rising price of fats, oils, butter and margarine.

This is paired with a 2.3% dip in unit sales across snack and bakery product categories in brick and mortar and a 1.6% drop in unit sales in omni channel, Lyons Wyatt pointed out.

This trend deviates notably within ecommerce, which saw both units and dollars increase dramatically in the same period. IRI data shows dollar sales of snacks and bakery items sold online increased 20.1% year-over-year, and unit growth increased 9.7%.

A deeper dive into the data also reveals flavors are “critical to driving excitement and engagement” ​within snacks and bakery items, and that different flavors impacted dollar and unit growth differently, said Lyons Wyatt.

For example, she noted that “tried and true flavors,”​ like chocolate chip, cheese, sour cream, honey, peanut butter and barbeque, were the top flavors driving sales, but not necessarily unit growth.

Rather, she found the flavors that are moving units are a bit more specific, such as Oreo instead of chocolate, or sophisticated, like almond butter instead of peanut butter. They also tend to be blended for a more complex flavor profile, such as sour cream & onion, cool ranch, flamin hot cheddar & sour cream and hot chili pepper & lime.

The more adventurous the flavor, the bigger the impact

Flavor combinations that were a bit more adventurous also had a bigger impact not just on unit sales growth but percentage change growth, Lyons Wyatt said, noting that these represent the emerging trends to watch more long term.

These include chili & cheese, fudge coconut and caramel, cinnamon peanut butter and cocoa, strawberry and squash, and apple and carrot.

Hot and spicy flavors that moved both unit sales and percent change growth also were more specific – drilling down to the type of pepper behind the heat, like Sweet Carolina Reaper, and layering additional flavors to go beyond heat for combinations like Scorchin Hot Cheddar, Tangy Tamarind and Roulette Cool Ranch, Lyons Wyatt said.

The most successful sweet flavors that moved both unit sale and percent change growth added an element of visual appeal, she added. For example, rainbow marshmallow, rainbow chocolate chip, drizzled and midnight berry.

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