Snacking Is Changing. There's Good News. There's Bad News.

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 10/2/2019

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PAUL SCHLOSSBERG

Four recent articles presented snacking in ways that might be good news or bad news for our business. Some of this will lean to the "good'" side. But there is some potentially "bad" news, too.

First up is a Wall Street Journal article from August 29. The headline: " How to Snack Smarter at Work ". The sub-headline opens with "The 3 p.m. slump is real." That's great. Many of you built your businesses on capturing sales during the afternoon snack break. But the next sentence is really challenging for us: "Soar right over it with these recipes for leading-edge noshes."

In case you missed it -- the word "recipes" presents a brown-bagging competitive threat. Read just a little further and you'll see that the risk is real: "But why settle for pedestrian pretzels or ascetic granola bars scrounged from the vending machine next to the conference room? With some foresight, superior homemade snacks will leave you feeling far better."

From there, we found another Wall Street Journal article, also from August 29. You'll probably enjoy the headline - " 5 Candy Bars That Top Pastry Chefs Crave ." They asked these pastry chefs about "the chocolate bars that pass muster…when they need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up." Their choices were: Milky Way Midnight, Oh Henry!, Skor, Take 5 and Twix.

Another Wall Street Journal article, from September 5, " Let's Bring Back the Proper Snack ," took another look at the snacking business. This sentence presents some important data: "The average American now eats nearly three commercial savory baked snacks (pretzels, popcorn, crackers, etc.) every day, and that's before we even start to factor in the cupcakes and the sodas, the energy balls and the toaster pastries."

Is this another lead-in for recipes for homemade snacks? Read this next sentence and you might think that our suppliers and our industry (plus convenience stores and other retail outlets) will soon be competing against homemade snacks. "There is no law that says a snack has to be unhealthy or factory made."

The final article we'll share here was from The New York Times, on August 26. From our perspective, the headline is the most unsettling: " Our Food Is Killing Too Many of Us . " Whether you agree or disagree (after you've read it), the authors relate our diets and overall health to the complexity of the debate about the costs of healthcare.

They present outcomes and solutions which might lead to "Taxes on sugary beverages and junk food (which) can be paired with subsidies on protective foods like fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, plant oils, whole grains, yogurt and fish. Emphasizing protective foods represents an important positive message for the public and food industry…"

Relative to this last article, it does not matter where you personally stand on the debate. We all should "eat healthier" and probably exercise more often. We all need to be active and proactive in our personal lives and in our business, too.

Be aware of local, state and federal rules, regulations and legislation that could impact your daily operations. Engage with National Automatic Merchandising Association activities. Communicate with your elected representatives. Present your point of view and fact-based reasons for your opposition or support for specific matters being considered.

Pay very careful attention to the ongoing debate about food and public policy. If you want to continue to sell more stuff, get involved at all levels of government to present your own business and our industry in a positive and proactive manner.

Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached by emailing to Paul@DFWConsulting.net, calling him at (972) 877-2972. The company is online at www.DFWConsulting.net