“Improved health profile” assists growth of potato chips and snacks in Britain

Posted by Isobel Drake on 6th March 2009

The latest research from Mintel finds ready salted potato chips have fallen from the number one slot in chip hungry Britain as cheese & onion appeals more to consumers increasingly keen to branch out on flavour.The market for cheese & onion ‘crisps’ is now worth a £256 million in the UK (A$566m), with sales having increased an impressive 15% in the last two years alone. Valued at £244 million in 2006, ready salted crisps have slipped into second place, despite an increase in sales of 5% over the same two year period. Meanwhile, things are turning sour for salt & vinegar, as sales of this classic fell 7% between 2006 and 2008.

Sales of the meaty favourite, beef, grew over 10% between 2006 and 2008.

“Though in years past Brits have been loyal to the original crisp flavour ready salted, cheese & onion has now overtaken it as the nation’s favourite crisp,” Emmanuelle Bouvier, Senior Market Analyst, commented.

“Interestingly, despite the on-going development of new and exciting flavours, the traditional favourites still win hands-down. In fact, cheese & onion, ready salted and salt & vinegar, still account for almost two thirds of sales of standard crisps. What is more, most new launches continue to focus on ready salted and salt & vinegar, which were the most popular flavours in terms of new product development last year,” Mr Bouvier advised.

Potato chips – packing in the sales?

The market for crisps and snacks experienced a recovery during 2007 and 2008, following a period of slowdown between 2003 and 2006. In the last year alone, sales grew by 5% as Brits munched their way through £2.53 billion worth of potato chips and snacks, an impressive achievement in the current climate of healthy eating and better living. Last year ‘crisps’ (£1.47 billion) accounted for almost 60% of total market value. Meanwhile, savoury snacks (£1.06 billion) made up the remainder of sales.

The market has benefited from an improved health profile, with the development of baked crisps and the increased use of sunflower oil for crisp frying. The introduction of alternative ingredients to the traditional potato such as vegetables or wholegrain have made potato chips more acceptable for everyday consumption.

Repositioning snacks as an indulgent treat for adult consumers using premium ingredients has also helped market growth. This has resulted in the development of a substantial market for premium crisps and snacks sold at higher prices, Mintel noted.

“The rate of innovation in the crisps and snacks market remains high, and this is a driving factor in sales growth. In recent years we have seen new products move away from a reduced fat, salt and additives positioning towards ‘natural’ and ‘premium’ claims,” Ms Bouvier said.

Overall sales of potato chips and snacks are likely to remain stagnant over the next five years, however, as money conscious consumers re-evaluate their purchases of premium products.