Dec. 12, 2012—Half of operators say fruit is the snack category (excluding vending) that has growth potential in the next two years. Second to fruit is the dips/salsa/hummus category, with 24% of operators saying this area will increase in sales. Dips/salsa/hummus, at only 4%, is the snack category with the least amount of current snack sales. Twenty-one percent of operators don’t expect growth in any snack category. LTC/senior living (29%) and schools (27%) were the most likely to report the no-growth outlook.
The yogurt/pudding category is expected to grow significantly more for contract management headquarters/B&I operators than other segments, with 48% expecting growth in this category. Gary Coutre, general manager for Sodexo at Siemens in Buffalo Grove, Ill., says this is because yogurt is a healthier morning or afternoon snack than many other options. He also cites the increased variety available, especially Greek yogurt, as boosting the snack’s popularity with his customers.
Students hungry for snacks on the go are reaching for the dips/salsa/hummus category, with 44% of operators reporting expected growth in this category. Silvia Vader, dining services manager at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif., says her customers don’t like waiting in line, so the foodservice department has seen an increase in housemade snacks that fit in the dip category. “The idea of made-in-house, grab-and-go [snacks] is a fresher approach to the consumer,” Vader says. “Increasing items and choices of made-in-house snacks will increase sales.”
New school meal regulations have put fruits and veggies top of mind for K-12 operators, with 63% citing fruit and 41% citing vegetables as the snack categories on the rise in the next two years. Veronica Bush, foodservices supervisor at Epping (N.H.) School District, says the fruits and vegetables category will grow due to the new emphasis on those items in cafeterias. She hopes that once students try these options, they will be more likely to eat them for snacks.
Hospitals and LTC/senior living
A renewed focus on health in hospitals has brought a push toward more vegetable- and fruit-based snacks. Dips/salsa/hummus-based snacks are also on the rise in hospitals, with 37% of operators reporting expected growth in the category. Pat Miller, director of dietetics for Seton Health in Troy, N.Y., has seen an increase in the packaged hummus and cracker option that the hospital offers. She attributes that to a more diverse customer base.