Several prevailing discussion points continue to surface as I enter into conversations with snack food and bakery industry colleagues these days, and one that frequently rises to the top is portion control. This food-product dynamic crosses over into multiple prevailing shopper concern these days. It’s part of better-for-you as people “snackify” their servings throughout the day—days that often dictate on-the-go mobility of those foods. It helps make occasional indulgences more approachable, clearly noting a suitable portion size with cut-and-dry calorie and total fat counts. It cuts down on food waste, a big-picture issue that isn’t going away, by letting people eat in highly controlled amounts. And it simultaneously aligns with the flexibility so desired by the millennials—and empty-nest baby boomers. When properly portioned, many existing food-product lines gain new life, strengthening brands and driving incremental sales.
A primary factor in delivering snackable, portion-sized foods is astute packaging for the job. This can be as simple as individually wrapping each portion within a larger package. Snack cake bakers have long favored this practice, making it easy to drop a treat into kids’ lunches in the hectic morning rush each day. It likewise fits within cookie product formats, as seen in a recent Little Debbie Peanut Crème Pies line extension billed as “perfect for lunchboxes, purses, briefcases, backpacks and more.”
Grouping two foods together for on-the-go snacking is also on the rise. A recently released pretzel and cheese product, Borden GOOD2GETHER Snacks, works well in this regard, and offers retailers smart merchandising potential.
Pretzels in general, along with other salty snacks, are a strong candidate for portion control, and the sales data proves the point. Snyder’s-Lance Inc., the nation’s No. 1 pretzel seller, saw its Snyder’s of Hanover 100-Calorie Pack Pretzels grow by 17.05 percent in dollar sales to $18.33 million for the 52 weeks ending May 17, 2015, per IRI, Chicago. The product, which can be bundled into larger secondary packaging suited to either traditional grocery stores (10-count packs) or warehouse/club stores (48-count packs), was introduced in 2012 and is currently the sixth-ranked brand in pretzels.
Snack, granola and nutritional bars already have an upper hand in terms of portion control and portable packaging, but they’re dialing-down sizes and sometimes opting for resealable packaging. The recent goodnessknows Snack Squares launch from Mars divides a standard 1.20-oz. bar into four “snack squares,” and Gluten Free Bites from The Gluten Free Bar takes the bar format, cuts it into bite-sized portions, and sells it in a resealable stand-up pouch.
And as noted in a recent “State of the Industry: Bakery” analysis of desserts (“A small slice of indulgence”), single-serving pie, cake and cheesecake products continue to drive that segment forward. This includes hand pies, snack-sized pies and single slices, all individually wrapped. We’re starting to see more mini Bundt cakes hit the market—products that often sport a small size but a big indulgence factor. These products sell well, because they overcome the potential burden of buying a whole pie or cake that could potentially go to waste—or cause you to eat too much of it…
When armed with just the right packaging, a potentially limitless number of existing foods can gain new life through snack-oriented portion control.