Doughnuts were the fastest growing "out of home" snack item in Britain in 2013, although consumers' appetite for snacking out of home is declining in general.
That's according to the latest figures from foodservice industry analysts the NPD Group. NPD found that doughnuts were the fastest growing out of home snack item, increasing 11.1% by servings compared to the previous year. This is an increase of 6.4 million servings to 63.7 million for the whole year.
Brownies were second, growing +10.9% with a total of 54.6 million servings for the year. And chocolate bars topped the league table of favourite snack food items away from home. Nearly one in 14 snacks consisted of a chocolate bar, with 245 million servings sold during the year.
Consumers said the desire for a treat was still a big motivator when they snack, with "treat myself" up by +11.7% and accounting for 14.5% of all snacking meal occasions during 2013.
Despite that, the appetite among Britons for snacking away from home is declining. Snacking visits out of home decreased -2.3% in the year ending December 2013, following several years of growth. NPD Group figures show that all types of snacking dropped: morning snacks decreased -2.9%; afternoon snacks dipped -2.4% and late snacks were off -1.7%. The declines were driven by the core consumer aged 25 to 49 years and are partly due to consumers preferring to eat at the usual times of breakfast, lunch and dinner, and choosing to eat out in a more sociable way.
Most snacking occasions declined, including "on-premises" snacking, and there was less snacking at work or school too. However, snacking on the go has increased with snacking in cars or on other forms of transport up by +2.6%. There is clearly still an appetite for snacks among busy consumers on the go. Pubs saw the biggest drop in snacking business; they recorded 28 million fewer snacking visits in the year ending December 2013 (down -11.7%). There was a similar shift at retailers and convenience stores which recorded 27 million fewer snacking visits (down -4.2%).
The biggest loss of appetite for snacking was among the C2DE social groups, with snack visits down by -13.1%. In contrast, snack visits among the more affluent ABC1s were up by +5%. But consumers will still be tempted to snack if there's a promotional deal involved. Snacking visits to take advantage of a promotion increased this year by +2.1%.
Chocolate bars finished the year ahead, with 7.3% of all snack visits including one of these treats. Cake and crisps came in second and third respectively, while beef burgers came in fourth, narrowly beating ice cream into fifth place. Sandwiches are still seen as good snacks but individual sandwich choices such as chicken (100 million servings) or bacon (78.4 million servings) still came behind the chips and French fries option (111.8 million servings).
Jessica Chambers, client development manager for The NPD Group, said: "We spent £8.1b on ‘out of home' snacks in 2013 so we are not losing our knack for a snack, even though some people are definitely trying to save money by snacking less often. And with three sweet snacks in the top five fastest growing, and nearly 425 million servings of chocolate and cake happily consumed out of home in 2013, we clearly have a sweet tooth."