Snack & dessert profitability primer

From Mondelēz International Foodservice.

Perhaps you showcase packaged snack and dessert items in an attractive countertop rack to encourage grab-and-go sales. Or maybe you feature an irresistible milkshake or parfait made with brand-name cookie mix-ins.

If so, you are one of the many foodservice operators who earn higher profits by promoting snack and dessert items as add-on sales or as ingredients in house-made creations. And that’s a smart move: to put it bluntly, anyone who isn’t doing this is leaving money on the table.

As the economy slowly recovers, merchandising packaged snacks and desserts for patrons to enjoy on the premises or take back to the office — as well as promoting your own signature desserts — can make a big difference in your bottom line.

For starters, indulging in snacks and desserts is an increasingly common behavior these days. In fact, more and more folks like to nosh periodically throughout the day rather than sit down to eat three square meals every day. When snackers feel the urge to munch, they reach for anything from cookies or crackers to salty snacks and breakfast biscuits. However, at the same time, consumers are increasingly demanding lighter snack options, like 100-calorie packs of popular snack and dessert items.

Imagine if you sold a snack or dessert item to just one in four customers per day. If you serve 200 people daily, and the average snack or dessert is priced at $2.50, that amounts to $125 in additional sales per day — or more than $45,000 per year. With the profit margin on some snack and dessert items reaching 70 percent, you can see how that adds up.

Many operators choose snacks and desserts with brand names that consumers have known and trusted for years. From a merchandising standpoint, the eye-catching graphics on the labels of these well-known products leverage brand equity to drive sales. Also, these leading brands often offer operators free display racks and point-of-sale materials that showcase customers’ favorite brands.

Of course, no one grows his or her bottom line without managing food and labor costs. Here again, packaged, branded snack and dessert items really come in handy. They take little or no labor to sell, especially if you put them out in self-serve displays. They tend to have relatively long shelf lives and minimal waste. Depending on how elaborate your offerings are, you may find that the cost of menuing these products is negligible. In fact, many foodservice operators avoid the expense of hiring a pastry chef by working with ready-to-use packaged snacks and desserts.

Additionally, you certainly don’t need advanced skills to transform house-made desserts into true signature items with snack and dessert ingredients. For example, crumbled graham crackers add texture and flavor to a fruit-and-yogurt parfait; crushed cookies make a great ice cream topping or pie crust base. Moreover, it’s easy to turn salty snacks into crunchy garnishes for burgers and sandwiches or an appealing addition to the breading of chicken wings or mozzarella sticks.

Finally, it is a good habit to regularly groom your snack and dessert menu mix. Rank your items in order of sales and analyze how much profit each one produces. A smart operator promotes the strongest performers and replaces the slowest sellers with new choices.