DALLAS -- Supermarkets will continue to lose salty snack market share to other classes of trade in the years ahead, predicts an official with the ACNielsen sales tracking organization. He also said sales of pretzels may have peaked.
"The snack food category is continuing to grow in supermarkets, but the growth rate is lower than what we experienced in 1994 and 1993," said Gary F. Crisafulli, Nielsen's vice president, group account director, when he spoke about the future of the snack food industry at last month's SNAXPO '96 convention here.
"I think this is because of the growth we are seeing in mass merchandisers. Wal-Mart and Kmart have opened a lot of super centers and they are going to continue to open super centers in 1996," he said.
"That is going to put a lot of pressure on supermarket sales. A lot of the snack food categories have very good distribution in Wal-Mart Supercenters and Kmart. We're seeing movement out of supermarkets and into alternate channels that is going to continue to grow the snack food category," Crisafulli explained.
Crisafulli said supermarket snack food volume grew 2.5% in 1995, while pound volume edged up 1.1%, showing that pricing has stabilized.
"Potato chip and tortilla chip growth was fueled by the nonfat and reduced-fat products. The good news is that early indications are that as the nonfat, low-fat and reduced-fat products come onto the market, they don't seem to be cannibalizing the regular fat varieties of potato chips and tortilla chips to date," he explained.
"It is going to be interesting to see how the new products with Olestra that are coming out in 1996 will impact that trend. We will watch that very closely to see how consumers' trial develops on those products, and more importantly, whether consumers are repeating on that product," he said.
However, the growth of low-fat and non-fat potato and taco chips is having a negative impact on the original low-fat salty snacks: pretzels and popcorn.
For example, pretzel sales growth in supermarkets slowed to 3.6% in 1995, down significantly from previous years.