Richard Robinson told FoodManufacture.co.uk that 4% year-on-year growth within the UK snack market – and 10% value growth for its Penn State pretzel brand – reflected a trend towards home snacking and higher spending on ‘affordable’ treats during tough economic times.
A former business unit director within Northern Foods’ frozen division, Robinson said that work for Intersnack UK – which posted an £80m turnover last year and also produces brands such as Pom-Bear and Your Nuts – within the “hugely dynamic and scalable” snacks market, was exciting by comparison.
“Frozen is a relatively slow growing and traditional sector that can be quite conservative in terms of new product development. Unlike snacks where innovation is not just desirable but indispensable to success,” he said.
“This is one of the fastest moving segments of food and it’s vital to keep innovating to meet the needs of customers and consumers for new ideas.”
Licence to play
Robinson identified new flavour ideas such as wasabi and salt/sweet as clear sales drivers over the past year, and added that there was, “definitely a consumer appetite for experimentation, although to be successful we believe new flavours generally have to be in tune with the nature of the product”.
He added: “Snacks have more licence to play with flavour than many other kinds of foods. People love to try new things and it is quite possible to win with the Marmite effect ... build a loyal following for an unusual flavour that might be hated in equal measure by another group of people.”
However, despite Intersnack’s commitment to meeting government targets for producing healthier products, Robinson said that “current data is suggesting that in snacks the market for overtly ‘healthy eating’ products has now plateaued”.
Local press reports in Northeast England recently quoted Intersnack UK predictions that turnover would grow to £90m during 2011, and by 50% over the next three years.
Asked to confirm these figures, Robinson said: “Our turnover last year was around £80m. We’re currently finalising our year end plan and are expecting that our growth will be in line with the market.
“We do believe this business has significant opportunity to expand and will continue to invest in new products, improved manufacturing standards and research as these are key tools to facilitate that growth.”
Intersnack UK has manufacturing sites in Tanfield, County Durham (baked products and seed processing), at Corby in Norhamptonshire (Pom-Bear and fried snacks) and a specialist nut processing unit in Haverhill, Suffolk.