We still have the knack for sugary snacks

Doughnuts were the fastest growing ‘out of home’ snack item in Britain in 2013, and chocolate bars were the most popular

London 20th Feb 2014: Have you had the urge lately to dive into a coffee shop or convenience store to treat yourself to a doughnut or a bar of chocolate? New foodservice industry figures from The NPD Group Inc, a global information company, show that you won’t be the only one contemplating a sugary indulgence when away from home.

Doughnuts were among the fastest growing ‘out of home’ snack items in the year ending December 2013, growing by +11.1% servings compared to the previous year. This is an increase of +6.4 million servings to 63.7 million for the whole year. Brownies came a close second, growing +10.9% with a total of 54.6 million servings for the year. And chocolate bars topped the league table of our favourite snack food items away from home. Nearly 1 in 14 snacks consisted of a chocolate bar, with 245 million servings sold during the year.

The NPD Group: Five Fastest Growing Snack Food Items (out of home) Year ending December 2013 Servings (millions) Servings % Change vs. YA
Doughnuts 63.7 11.1%
Brownie 54.6 10.9%
Bacon Sandwich 44.7 10.9%
Fish/Seafood 58 10.5%
Croissants 54.9 10.4%

And if you saw your snack as a way of treating yourself you will be in good company. Consumers said the desire for a little treat is still a big motivator when they snack, with ‘treat myself’ up by +11.7% and accounting for 14.5% of all snacking meal occasions during 2013.

Snacking overall is down

Despite our obvious sweet tooth, the appetite among Britons for snacking away from home is declining. Snacking visits out of home decreased -2.3% in the year ending December 2013 following several years of growth.  NPD Group figures show that all types of snacking dropped: morning snacks decreased -2.9%; afternoon snacks dipped -2.4% and late snacks were off -1.7%.  The declines were driven by the core consumer aged 25 to 49 years and are partly due to consumers preferring to eat at the usual times of breakfast, lunch and dinner, and choosing to eat out in a more sociable way.

Most snacking occasions declined, including ‘on-premises’ snacking, and there was less snacking at work or school too. However, snacking on the go has increased with snacking in cars or on other forms of transport up by +2.6%.  There is clearly still an appetite for snacks among busy consumers on the go. Pubs saw the biggest drop in snacking business; they recorded 28 million fewer snacking visits in the year ending December 2013 (down -11.7%). There was a similar shift at retailers and convenience stores which recorded 27 million fewer snacking visits (down -4.2%).

Are some of us snacking less to save money?

The biggest loss of appetite for snacking was among the C2DE social groups, with snack visits down by -13.1%. In contrast, snack visits among the more affluent ABC1s were up by +5%.  But consumers will still be tempted to snack if there’s a promotional deal involved. Snacking visits to take advantage of a promotion increased this year by +2.1%.

What do we like best when snacking out of home?

Chocolate bars finished the year way ahead, with 7.3% of all snack visits including one of these treats. Cake and crisps came in 2nd and 3rd, while beef burgers came in 4th, narrowly beating ice cream into 5th place. Sandwiches are still seen as good snacks but individual sandwich choices such as chicken (100 million servings) or bacon (78.4 million servings) still came behind the Chips and French Fries option (111.8 million servings).

The NPD Group: Top 10 Food Items (out of home) Year ending December 2013 Servings (millions)
Chocolate Bar 245.4
Cake 178.9
Crisps 132.6
Beef Burger 129
Ice Cream 127.9
Chips/French Fries 111.8
Chicken Sandwich 100
Cookie 90.9
Bacon Sandwich 78.4
Biscuits/ Scones 77.8

Jessica Chambers, Client Development Manager for The NPD Group, said: “We spent £8.1 billion on ‘out of home’ snacks in 2013 so we are not losing our knack for a snack, even though some people are definitely trying to save money by snacking less often. And with three sweet snacks in the top five fastest growing, and nearly 425 million servings of chocolate and cake happily consumed out of home in 2013, we clearly have a sweet tooth.”

When consumers are looking for a snack, ‘convenient location’ is still the number one reason to visit a particular outlet or restaurant – accounting for 44.9% of occasions.

Press Contact

Lucy Green
Greenfields Communications
07817 698366

The NPD Group, Inc.
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Port Washington, NY 11050

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