Meat snacks
Meat snacks showed compound annual sales growth of over 7% for each of the past four years.

NEW YORK — Sales of meat snacks are reshaping the salty snacks category, according to consumer insights company Nielsen, while growth of chips and pretzels have been lackluster in the past year. With annual sales of more than $7.2 billion, potato chips posted dollar growth of 1.7%, and pretzels declined 0.5% last year, but meat snacks grew 3.5% in the year ended Feb. 25.

Split into two segments — jerky and sticks — meat snacks as a whole represent a $2.8 billion category. Each segment contributes to about half of total sales. However, jerky had a strong recent year with sales growth at almost 7% while meat sticks were flat after ups and downs for the previous three years.

Potato chips still reign as the top-selling salty snack in overall sales with an annual household spend of $35.37. Meat snacks come in second at $25.81. However, meat snacks’ household spend per trip, $7.42, doubles that of potato chips, at $3.61.

Meat snacks meat sticks
Meat stick sales were flat after ups and downs for the previous three years.

Asian-American households spend the most money each year (an average of $31.61) on meat snacks, according to Nielsen’s Homescan. Asian-American shoppers are over 22% more likely to purchase meat snacks than the average shopper. Baby boomers are the biggest spending generation, spending $28.48 per year on meat snacks, making them 10% more likely than the average shopper to purchase.

Shoppers are using the same three channels to purchase both traditional salty snacks and meat snacks, Nielsen said. The biggest difference is that 45% of consumers purchase traditional salty snacks at conventional grocery stores while only 23% purchase meat snacks at grocery stores. Almost 25% purchase meat snacks at supercenters, 20% purchase traditional salty snacks at supercenters and nearly 21% of shoppers buy meat snacks at warehouse clubs with only 12% buying traditional salty snacks at club stores.