Strong Year for Meat Snacks

Meat snack manufacturers are targeting new customers with innovative flavors, new packaging and an attractive price point. Leading the charge to meet the changing needs of the consumer is Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, which markets dozens of popular meat snack varieties under the Jack Link’s and MATADOR brands.

Overall, meat snack sales soared 10.3% to $945.52 million in 2011, according to Nielsen ScanTrack data for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 31, 2011. Jerky (39.6% of total sales) and traditional sticks (32.9%) were the two largest segments of the meat snacks category, followed by steak (13.2%) and combo packs (4.7%).

Volume also increased with the number of packages sold in 2011 jumping 4.9% to 453.17 million.

Stocking the Shelves
Led by category captain Jack Link’s, Huck’s Food and Fuel has been experiencing double-digit growth in this core snacking segment.

Hunger satisfaction steers considerable snack selection as 68% of consumers who purchase meat snacks do so for that reason, according to a Snack Food Association (SFA) Panel Report. Randy Adams, category buyer for 109 Huck’s Food and Fuel in Carmi, Ill. agreed.

Huck’s is experiencing incredible growth in the meat snacks category overall as it has been focusing heavily on the snacking segment. The company in April rolled out a four-sided walk-around snack display that it developed in house to market top-selling snack brands. Jack Link’s serves as the chain’s category captain, providing Adams with the marketing data and merchandising expertise he needs to continue growing sales.

“We have continued to see double-digit volume growth for three consecutive years, and Jack Link’s has been an invaluable partner in getting us to where we want to be,” Adams said. “Our new display has enabled us to not only increase product visibility, but allows us to offer a wide variety of packaging that ranges from as little as 99 cents to as much as $6.29 for the bigger bags, and everything in between.”

As a result, Huck’s has a solution of nuggets, sticks and steaks in all sizes and price points to cater to the core 18-34-year-old demographic, but still offers a wide variety to attract new customers, such as women and even seniors.
Also boosting Huck’s sales is where it is positioning the category. The new meat snacks displays are located just in front of the soda fountain at each of its stores. This helps drive business with customers of all ages.

“We do a huge dispensed beverage business,” Adams said. “So whether it’s the soda fountain, frozen beverages or even coffee, customers come in contact with our snack displays and this has boosted impulse sales. It’s to a point now where meat snacks are a 12-month category. We see a spike around hunting season and fishing season, but when you have the right mix and the right price, customers are loyal all year-round.”

As with so many other product categories, consumers want new items to try despite being fiercely loyal to their favorite brands and products, and manufacturers aren’t disappointing them. Chris Switzer, category manager for Susser Holdings Corp., the Corpus Christi, Texas-based operator of more than 500 Stripes stores across three states, said he is seeing some innovation among the new products entering the category, mainly in the stick segment.

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