Consumer Buying Trends: Sweets & Snacks Edition

Consumer Buying Trends: Sweets & Snacks Edition

By Jill Failla

With the 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago this week, we’re examining SPINS Consumer Insights to understand how consumers have changed their snacking habits in 2017. Natural snacks and sweets are growing due to an increase in household penetration, while conventional snacks and sweets purchases declined or stagnated in 2017. SPINS’ VP Marketing Molly Hjelm will explore trend topics in further depth in the morning of the show’s opening day, but here’s a quick snapshot of consumer snacking trends.

Natural FROZEN DESSERTS and REFRIGERATED YOGURT & KEFIR are enjoying year-over-year sales growth of 28.2% and 1.3%, respectively, compared to 3.2% and 7.9% declines among their conventional counterparts. This growth is due to increases in households purchasing these natural products as well as consumers switching from conventional products to natural products in these categories. Interestingly, both are dairy-centered categories that are simultaneously seeing a rise in sales of plant-based varieties.

A closer look through SPINS and IRI’s NaturaLink segmentation reveals that household penetration growth for natural FROZEN DESSERTS is coming from Healthy Realists (34% uplift in penetration), Enlightened Environmentalists (25% uplift) and True Believers (19% uplift) – the consumer segments made up of those most committed to a natural lifestyle.

(For a detailed explanation of these consumer segments, see Who’s Really Buying Natural and Organic products here.)

SPINS is also seeing that natural SHELF-STABLE CANDY grew sales 11.3% year over year, driven by an increase in engagement of consumers seeking natural and organic sweets. More specifically, the proportion of households purchasing natural SHELF-STABLE CANDY grew 15% for Healthy Realists and Enlightened Environmentalists and 9% for True Believers over last year. This is likely due in part to new natural candy products emerging in the marketplace that appealed to these health & wellness shoppers, featuring natural alternative sweeteners and other innovations.

Learn more about Sweets & Snacks with SPINS:

  • Find SPINS’ VP Marketing Molly Hjelm presenting with KeHE Distributors’ Director of Consumer and Growth Solutions Tania Ortega on the Sweets & Snacks Expo’s opening day. Their session on the state of the specialty market is scheduled for 8:30 AM on Tuesday, May 22.
  • Stay tuned for SPINS’ annual report on snacking, including further analysis of snacking category sales plus hot product finds from the Sweets & Snacks Expo, available for download later this summer. (Scroll down to this page’s footer to join our mailing list and never miss an update from SPINS!)

Only SPINS’ Consumer Insights Solutions provides a comprehensive look at the shifting consumer behaviors and need states driving the health & wellness retail industry. Want to know more? Contact Director of Consumer Insights Patrick Knight at to dig deeper into data on e-commerce and other hot retail topics affecting your business.

SPINS Consumer Insights (IRI Consumer Panel), Total US All Outlets, 52 weeks ending 12/31/17

SPINSscan Natural and Specialty Gourmet (proprietary), SPINSscan Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI), 13 Quads Ending 2018-Apr-22.