Jul 17, 2023 - Economy

Snacking demand defies higher prices

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Snacking remains popular despite elevated prices.

Driving the news: PepsiCo's Frito-Lay North America snacks business, which includes Doritos and Cheetos, saw a 14% increase in revenue last quarter over the same period last year, the company reported last week.

  • And it wasn't just higher prices. Sales volume in the snacks unit rose, whereas volumes for the company's Quaker Foods and beverages brands — which also saw revenue gains — both fell.
  • Separately, Conagra reported grocery and snacks grew by 3.6%, which was more than expected.

Zoom out: Salty snacks — pretzels, chips, popcorn and the like — topped the list of best-selling specialty foods last year for the first time, according to the Specialty Food Association (SFA).

  • In 2022, the chips, pretzels and snacks category topped $6 billion — the first category to ever achieve this, per the SFA's State of the Specialty Food Industry report.

What they're saying: A "return to more social events and entertaining is driving sales" of this category, the SFA said in a trends report.

  • Plus, "personal indulgence has proven to be pandemic- and inflation-proof."

The intrigue: The uptick in industry and consumer interest comes as venture investors have lost their appetite for food tech.

  • VC deal count and deal value in the space dropped from last year, per PitchBook.
  • Among the factors: Product development is capital intensive and faces heavy regulation.

What to watch: A heavy focus on sustainable packaging, regenerative agriculture and other ESG-type considerations — as well as fun consumer experiences.

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