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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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