Competitor Strategies in Snacks

February 2024

Leading snacks players maintained their positions in 2023. In a context of high inflation and cost-of-living challenges, their main strategies include widening the portfolio with more premium products; innovation in flavours and sizes to provide new experiences to the consumer; incorporation of healthy attributes like sugar reduction, higher content of protein, and plant-based products; and a continuous progression towards more sustainable practices.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key findings

A return to acquisition activity on behalf of the main players

There is an increase in M&A activities, especially in fast-growing categories, through the acquisition of established companies and brands. Examples include the acquisition of two popcorn plants by The Hershey Co, expanding into savoury snacks, the acquisition of luxury brands Hotel Chocolat and Trü Frü by Mars, and the acquisitions of Wells and Grupo CRM by Ferrero and Nestlé, respectively.

Innovation in flavours and formats is back on top for delivering new experiences

Innovation is back at the centre after a period of SKU rationalisation. Consumers seek an escape from daily stress and anxieties, and new sensory experiences provided by snacks can be a source of comfort. The main snacks players are launching new flavours, sizes, textures, and products thought for different occasions and moments of the day.

Snacks industry leaders increase their offer of healthier products

Consumers are paying more attention to the impact of food on their health. Global snacks players are launching products with healthy attributes that provide permissible indulgence. This includes reduced content of sugar, salt, fat and calories, added functional benefits for mental health and energy, higher content of protein and vitamins, and smaller sizes for portion control.

Sustainability continues to be a priority for most big snacks players

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, 64% of global consumers still say they are worried about climate change. Snacks players continue to have sustainability as a top priority, reaching milestones of their long-term goals every year. This includes reducing packaging waste, using natural resources more efficiently, stopping deforestation, and reducing carbon emissions.

Top players are increasing their presence in the premium space

With high inflation, consumers are shifting to cautious spending. However, premium snacks are still chosen as an affordable luxury and a source of indulgence. Many top players are increasing their presence in the premium space to increase their margins.


Key findings
Top 10 players in snacks industry maintain same ranking as last year
Industry players reorganise their portfolios to compete more effectively in snacks
PepsiCo and Mondelez benefit most from market momentum over 2018-2023
Emerging markets are a focus for growth for most top players
The focus and dominance of PepsiCo in savoury snacks and Unilever in ice cream continue
Most top 10 players make more than half of their total sales with their top three brands
Top 10 snacks companies are expected to maintain their leadership
PepsiCo leads the snacks industry with a focus on health and sustainability
PepsiCo also keeps on innovating to adapt to new consumer preferences and lifestyles
Mondelez offers affordable luxury and permissible indulgence
Mars’s product strategy involves innovation, healthy attributes, premium and sustainability
Nestlé expands into the health and premium spaces, with notable investments in Brazil
Ferrero remains strong in chocolate and biscuits while diversifies its portfolio through M&A
Unilever’s strategy is based on premiumisation, digitalisation and simplification
Hershey focuses on expansion in salty snacks, innovation around new flavours, and health claims
The split of Kellogg Co into two separate companies allows focus on snacks and innovation
Innovation in flavours and formats is back for delivering new experiences
Healthy snacks will continue to proliferate with greater focus on functionality
Sustainability continues to be a priority for most big snacks players
Despite inflation, affordable luxury trend enables players to expand into the premium space
Projected company sales: FAQs (1)
Projected company sales: FAQs (2)


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