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The sky's the limit in the crisp and snack market for growers prepared to be imaginative

22 March 2016

Are reports of declining sales of potato crisps marking a gloomy outlook for potato growers? Analysts claim the sky's the limit in the crisp and snack market for growers prepared to be imaginative. 

The latest research by Mintel estimates that sales of potato crisps declined to £1.34 billion in 2015 – the second successive year that sales have dropped, falling from a high of £1.39 billion in 2013. Produce Business UK investigates.

The bare sales figures, while a little concerning, would suggest this is not a seismic shift in consumer behaviour, and David Swales, head of strategic insight at the UK’s Agriculture & Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), says instead the wider stats could highlight opportunities.

He explains: “The gross value of the crisps market is falling, but volume is rising. We are in a period of price deflation, which means shop prices are lower. From a grower’s perspective, this means the more they sell the better – the increase in volume sales means more potatoes are sold. There are actually greater opportunities to sell. Growers need to target the buyers with whom they have longer-term contact relationships with different markets to get the best deal.”

Mintel’s results may in fact show up a much larger issue, reflecting changing consumer tastes and emerging avenues for growers opening up in other areas. This is a market segment that is undergoing change and diversification.

In its report, Crisps, Savoury Snacks and Nuts 2016, Mintel discovered that while sales of potato crisps have declined, sales of potato-based and other snacks have been growing rapidly, rising by 25% between 2010 and 2015.

Amy Price, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, agrees with Swales that the crisps market is experiencing deflation, adding that “manufacturers and retailers [are] turning to discounting to drive volumes as part of the supermarket price wars, and the category is losing out to healthier alternatives, such as potato-based snacks”. 

Adding value

Many growers have for some time been focusing on creating their own value-added, gourmet crisps and potato snacks in order to reach a wider market. It can prove very lucrative. [...]


Source: Produce Business UK

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