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Crackers: U.S. Market Trends
In the world of snacks, crackers are fast becoming the next big thing for snackers and the final frontier for food marketers. As harried, on-the-go Americans increasingly turn to snacks to satisfy their cravings and replace sit-down meals, they are discovering that crackers can offer an exciting and healthy alternative to traditional salty snacks such as chips, popcorn and pretzels. In a virtuous circle that promises to provide a significant boost to the market for crackers, major marketers in turn have begun to roll out an ever-expanding line of innovative products to meet the challenge created by soft sales and slow growth in product segments such as potato chips and cheese snacks. At the same time, smaller marketers of crackers are carving out space and grabbing market share by offering creative, artisanal products that satisfy their customers’ needs for authenticity in the food they eat. As this process unfolds, the traditionally placid market for crackers is turning upside down.
Crackers: U.S. Market Trends reveals that the new breed of crackers that is filling more and more shelves in grocery stores and supermarkets bears little resemblance to the Ritz crackers Mom ate with peanut butter and has no genetic ties to the Saltines Grandma ate with her soup. Today’s crackers set out to assuage the perpetual quest of serious snackers for explosive crunches and wild flavors right out of the box. As marketers dream up new ways to transform crackers into snacks, they are blurring the boundaries between crackers, crisps and chips. Besides positioning crackers as a stand-alone snack fit for eating right out of the box just like other snacks, marketers are moving in the direction of offering crackers that serve as mini-meals for consumers who are too busy to sit down and eat a regular meal.
Another key driver in the crackers market is the increasing ability of marketers of all sizes to connect crackers with consumers’ health and wellness concerns. Marketers of crackers are succeeding in giving consumers more opportunities to congratulate themselves for eating healthy-ingredient crackers with a good-for-you image. This is a critical element in any growth strategy for crackers marketers since Packaged Facts has found that household use of healthy-ingredient snacks, such as fruit- and nut-based snacks, far outpaced use of crackers during the past decade.
This Packaged Facts report defines the market for crackers based upon the following major product types: crackers with fillings, or sandwich crackers; graham crackers; saltines; and “all other crackers,” a category including a wide range of cracker types such as cheese-flavored crackers, crackers made with various grains, flatbreads and crackers fashioned as crisps. The report also analyzes consumer behavior related to the categories of crackers tracked by Simmons National Consumer Study (NCS): butter- and cheese-flavored crackers; grain crackers, including those made from oats, wheat and rye; other flavored crackers, such as those with onion and barbeque flavors; graham crackers; and saltines.
One source of primary data used in this report is IRI InfoScan Reviews for the 52 weeks ending September 8, 2013. Another primary data source is the Spring 2013 NCS, which was fielded between January 2012 and March 2013. The report also includes data from the Spring 2004 Simmons NCS.
The report is also based upon data collected from field surveys of food retailers in various channels as well as a wide range of industry sources, including company websites, trade publications, business newspapers and magazines, consumer blogs, and annual reports, 10Ks and other releases from public companies.
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