Snacking continues to be a growth category across all food retail channels, with healthy snacks in particular gaining steam.
Those are among the findings of a recent report by Nielsen Co. LLC. Annual household spending on individually-packaged snacks rose 1.1% over the previous year, and 98 percent of U.S. households purchased them at least once, according to the report.
The individual snacking category in the U.S. is now worth $33 billion, and the average household spends $133 annually on individual snacks, purchasing them an average of 22 times per year.
Between 2013 and 2016, sales in all individual snacking categories increased, with bars, jerky and cookies/crackers the three biggest sellers. The biggest growth was seen in salty snacks and cookies/crackers (both 6 percent) and jerky and produce (both 5 percent).
Sales of snacks with health claims have surged in recent years, according to Nielsen. Non-GMO snacks have enjoyed 18.2 percent annual growth for each of the past five years, snacks free from artificial colors and flavors are up 16.2 percent and those with no or reduced sugar are up 11.3 percent.
Healthy snacks also have a bright future in c-stores, according to the report. Forty-four percent of those surveyed said they’re willing to pay premium prices at c-stores, and 33 percent of c-store shoppers plan to purchase fresh foods at c-stores.