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It’s crunch time for salty snacks as new options help expand the market



Who needs sugary snacks when you can have salty ones? That seems to be the thinking of many Canadian consumers opting for savoury munchies these days.

Mintel research shows the salty snack market is poised for more growth this year and that has attracted new players to the Canadian market, such as Kellogg’s Cheez-It Crackers introduced early this year. Revenue from potato chips alone in 2020 is expected to edge upward by 1.4%, according to Statista. That is good news for c-stores when it comes to ‘crunching’ sales figures.

The numbers are no surprise to Ajay Handa, business head, Canada, Future Enterprises Pte Ltd./Food Empire, who brought Singapore-made Kracks stackable potato chips to this country almost three years ago. He says Canadians are voracious consumers—the highest in the world. “The shelf space devoted to potato chips is larger than that devoted to them anywhere in Europe,” he notes. “A large percentage of sales in Canada comes from convenience stores so they are important channels.”

The brand supports sales through consumer promotions and social media campaigns to build awareness. He suggests c-stores can maximize sales by having Kracks available next to big players in the potato chip sector so clients can access a competitively priced alternative. In April, Kracks, available in resealable canisters, adds two new flavours—cheese and hot and spicy—to its top-selling roster, including original, sour cream and onion, wasabi, and barbecue.

The focus on daring flavours is an unstoppable trend—one that Bigs roasted sunflower seeds has embraced wholeheartedly. “We are known for developing products that deliver on big, bold flavour,” says Andrea Stodart, marketing director, snacks, Conagra Brands Canada.  “Partnering with unique brands like Taco Bell has given Bigs a point of differentiation in the market. The latest flavour from BigsSmokey Bar-B-Q, in partnership with Stubb’s Bar-B-Q saucehas launched in Canada and is rolling out in stores throughout April.”

Offering a unique taste is just one part of the strategy to stand out in a competitive market. This spring, Conagra is launching a promotion with Toronto Blue Jays third baseman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  In-store displays, digital ads, and a strong presence on Instagram and Facebook will be a home run for fans of Guerrero’s and Bigs sunflower seeds.  

Salty snack enthusiasts are also health-conscious, opening the door for innovation and new players. You could say that Saskatoon-based Three Farmers is feeling the ‘pulse’ of these consumers. Its latest introduction, Crunchy Little Lentils, offers crunchiness, fibre, iron and a protein kick (18 g per 28 g serving) in four flavours, including barbecue, garlic and herb. It joins chickpea and pea SKUs.

“Three Farmers Foods is focused on nutrient-dense, whole foods that taste good and satisfy, not only those salty cravings but the desired crunch and nutrition that consumers are looking for,” says co-owner Elysia Vandenhurk. “Many ‘pulse’ snacks are highly refined into puffs, chips or other snack types. Our snack lines are minimally processed, and keep the quality and integrity of each ingredient intact.”

With more, better-for-you salty snacks launching, what can c-stores do to capture the attention of consumers and boost sales? Brandon Whitehead, marketing and social media manager, On The Go (owned by Stanmar International), offers a suggestion: “Create a healthy/natural section or premium snack section with focused signage to highlight healthier snack options.”

Among them should be salty-sweet snacks, the latest global trend. On The Go Fusion Snacks satisfies both preferences with a trail mix made from roasted, salted edamame beans and sulphite-free dried fruit, like goji berries and cranberries. A granola-based snack mix is coming soon. “Consumers want healthier snack options with low sugar, low, fat, lower sodium and high protein. This is why On The Go is such a great product. It ticks all those boxes.”



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Conagra announces Mrs. Butterworth’s brand review

Screen Shot 2020-06-17 at 3.18.05 PMIn the wake of increased scrutiny and accountability around the Black Lives Matter movement, Conagra is conducting a review of its famous Mrs. Butterworth’s brand.

In a statement the company said: “The Mrs. Butterworth’s brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother. We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values.

“We understand that our actions help play an important role in eliminating racial bias and as a result, we have begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth’s.

“It’s heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world. We will be part of the solution. Let’s work together to progress toward change.”

The move comes after Quaker Foods announced it was scrapping the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima breakfast brand over concerns about racial stereotypes. Mars Inc., the parent brand of Uncle Ben’s, is also reviewing its rice brand.

Sean Connolly

Conagra provides bonuses to front-line staff

Conagra Brands is to provide an additional US$7 million in cash bonuses to eligible employees at each of the company’s 50 production and distribution facilities across the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

To date, the company has committed more than US$13 million in special bonuses for front-line employees working during the pandemic.

Sean Connolly

Sean Connolly

“On behalf of the senior management team, I’d like to extend my deepest appreciation and thanks to our employees for their refuse-to-lose attitude in continuing to work safely and effectively to deliver our products to customers, consumers and our communities during this unprecedented time,” Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer at Conagra Brands, said in a release. “Over the past two months, our production and distribution facility teams have done a tremendous job to make and deliver food that millions of people need.”

Since the COVID-19 epidemic began, Conagra Brands said it has implemented additional preventative measures to help reduce the spread of the virus. These include:

  • Social distancing practices, such as installing plexiglass barriers between work stations where people work less than six feet apart
  • Staggering shift start and stop times
  • Screening employee temperatures
  • Using face masks and shields in the company’s facilities
  • Reformatting breakrooms and limiting conference room usage
  • Rigorous plant maintenance and sanitation processes
  • Continuing to pay any employee who needs to be away from work due to a COVID-19-related production suspension or illness.



Conagra names new VP of sales

Leslie-Mackay-Conagra-200x300Conagra Brands Canada has promoted Leslie Mackay to VP of sales.

Mackay, who has more than 20 years experience in customer sales, strategy and brand management, was most recently director market development. In this role she was responsible for sales strategy, pricing, insights and analytics.

Mackay spent nearly 20 years with Kimberly-Clark prior to joining Conagra earlier this year.