Andrew Curtis, scientific and regulatory affairs manager for SNACMA, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that three misconceptions damage the reputation of the snack market. “First, many consumers think crisps have high levels of salt. Second, they think they contain a lot of saturated fats and, finally, that they lack nutrients.”
In reality, the salt content of many crisp products is less than a hamburger or a sandwich from a high street retailer, he said. “Many consumers don’t realise that crisps have a lower salt content than some types of bread. Crisps taste of salt so people think all crisps are saltier than bread.”
Similarly, consumers don’t know that a 25g serving of crisps contains less than 1% of saturated fat.
The third myth slowing crisp sales was that consumers’ ignorance of their nutrient value. “People focus on salt and saturated fats without realising that crisps also contain a high-levels of micronutrients such as vitamin C and potassium.”
Despite such misunderstandings, Mintel predicted that the value of the UK snack market would soar by £1bn to reach £3.8bn within the next four years.
Its report Crisps, Salty Snacks and Nuts noted: “Despite a fall in the number of users, the UK’s enthusiasm for indulgent salty snack treats such as crisps and nuts remains strong.”
84% of adults still snack on crisps and salty snacks, said the report.
Certain categories within the segment have made particularly strong progress. Chris Wisson, senior food analyst, said: “Potato and corn-based crisps are likely to continue to capture the largest proportion of sales in the market. But an increasing share of growth may derive from up-and-coming categories such as tortilla crisps and popcorn, which provide the consumer with something a bit different.”
Healthy snacks remain a small but increasingly lucrative niche. “Health remains a relatively minor interest within the category, but a much improved perception of the quality of health variants suggests that there may be an opportunity for brands to appeal to consumers who prioritise both taste and health.”
Mintel research revealed that 34% of adults who eat crisps, nuts and salty snacks claim to always try to buy healthy options. 55% of those surveyed believed that healthier options are tastier.
Curtis confirmed that snack manufacturers had made big efforts to cut salt and use more sustainable ingredients. Manufacturers have reduced the amount of salt in standard crisps by 48% between 1991 and 2012,
Also manufacturers had switched from palm oils to alternative vegetable oils such as sunflower, rapeseed, maize and olive oil, he added.
But his organisation focused on supporting product improvement rather than promotion, said Curtis.
SNACMA members include: Kellogg, Kettle Foods, Walkers Snack Foods, United Biscuits and Intersnack. Together, they account for over 90% of UK snack sales.
Last year the UK crisps, savoury snacks and snack nuts market was valued at £2.5bn.
Snacks – in numbers
- 1% – Savoury snacks contribution to adults’ total saturated fat intake
- 30% – Average fat content of standard potato crisps
- 3% – Snacks contribution to adults’ daily intake of fat.
- 8g – Average man’s daily consumption of crisps and savoury snacks per day.
- 70% – Proportion of crisps and savoury snacks sold in 25g bags.
- 0.1g – Sugar content of one 25g bag of crisps.