Grain-based foods
Overall dollar sales for the crackers category slipped below $7 billion in the 52 weeks ended July 9.

Cracker sales slow

Overall dollar sales for the crackers category slipped below $7 billion in the 52 weeks ended July 9, according to I.R.I. The slowdown in sales reflected a decline in several sub-categories, including crackers with fillings, graham crackers and saltines.

In the 52 weeks ended July 9, dollar sales in the crackers category totaled $6,929 million, down 0.49% from the same period a year ago, while unit sales fell 1.4% to 2,591 million, according to I.R.I.

In a June 13 presentation at the Deutsche Bank Global Consumer Conference in Paris, Alexander W. Pease, chief financial officer and executive vice-president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Snyder’s-Lance, said the company is looking for ways to differentiate in the snacks aisle. One of the areas of opportunity exists in the cracker aisle, where Mr. Pease said Snyder’s-Lance is underpenetrated. Although the company has a strong presence in sandwich crackers, it is “basically nonexistent” in the categories adjacent to sandwich crackers, he said.

Grain-based foods
“We did introduce a cracker innovation aligned with the Snyder’s of Hanover brand called Wholey Cheese!, which is giving us a new set of facings in the cracker aisle directly aligned with a large competitor in that space, but there is still more room to go in the cracker aisle,” Mr. Pease said.

If there is a modestly bright spot for the crackers category, it is that consumers continue to seek out products that are broadly categorized as “all other crackers.” In the 52 weeks ended July 9, dollar sales in the all other crackers category totaled $5,066 million, up 0.29% from the same period a year ago, according to I.R.I. Four of the top five vendors experienced a decline in sales during the period, but Pepperidge Farm helped tip the scales for the segment by turning in year-over-year growth of more than 6%, pushing its total dollar sales in the category to $829 million, according to I.R.I.

Pepperidge’s growth was fueled in part by Goldfish crackers, specifically, larger pack sizes and multipacks, increased advertising and the continued expansion of health and well-being offerings, including Goldfish made with organic wheat.

Snyder's-Lance Wholey Cheese crackers
Snyder's Lance introduced Wholey Cheese! gluten-free crackers earlier this year.

Mondelez International, meanwhile, sustained a 1% decline in dollar sales in the 52 weeks ended July 9, falling to $1,634 million. But the company’s Ritz brand performed well, with dollar sales of Nabisco Ritz crackers climbing 6%. Mondelez also benefited from its Good Thins brand, which debuted in March 2016.

“(The shift toward well-being) that’s been a key piece of our focus on renovating our base brands, like Triscuit, or introducing products like Good Thins as well as the launch of a product like Véa, which is a new whole grain product that we will be introducing in July,” Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and c.e.o., said during a May 2 conference call with analysts.