Snyder's-Lance striking balance in snack innovation

by Monica Watrous
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Snyder’s-Lance’s portfolio runs the snacking spectrum, from indulgent to healthy and everything in between.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Executives of Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. credit a balanced portfolio and agility in innovation for continued growth. The maker of Lance sandwich crackers, Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels and Cape Cod chips reported market share gains in salty snacks and better-than-expected earnings in the recent quarter.

Net income for the first quarter ended April 4 fell 37% to $10,582,000, equal to 15c per share on the common stock, which compared with $16,816,000, or 24c per share, in the prior-year period. Earnings were slightly ahead of expectations, even with a higher investment in marketing and advertising during the quarter. Results included the negative impact of after-tax expenses associated with severance charges and professional fees.

Net revenue advanced 8% to $402,341,000 from $373,016,000 the year before.

Snyder’s-Lance’s portfolio runs the snacking spectrum, from indulgent to healthy and everything in between. The company drives growth through a combination of product renovation, product innovation and brand expansion, with a keen focus on consumer trends.

“Consumers are snacking in many ways,” said Carl E. Lee Jr., president and chief executive officer, during a May 8 earnings call with financial analysts. “Sometimes we’re looking for a better-for-you snack or some fuel; we’re looking for some energy, and we’re looking for it in a much better way or healthier way. But then other times we’re looking to reward ourselves, looking maybe to indulge, and that’s where premium snacks really come into play.”

Across brands including Late July Organic Snacks, Eat Smart, Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps and others, the company offers organic, gluten-free, reduced-fat, wholesome and premium options.

“So we welcome this because we really compete and win across a lot of different usage occasions and different type of eating occasions that consumers are being motivated to take advantage of,” Mr. Lee said.

Agility in innovation

The ability to respond quickly to consumer trends with innovation helps Snyder’s-Lance build its balanced portfolio. As an example, at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim in March the company debuted a new line of Lance gluten-free bite-size sandwich crackers in cheddar cheese and peanut butter flavors.

“One of the things that we discovered late last year was really there was no gluten-free sandwich cracker out there… that was portable and convenient and a bite-size,” Mr. Lee said. “As we discovered that important need, we went to work very quickly to develop that and get it to market as soon as possible.

“What we’re sharing with you today wasn’t even on our drawing board in Q3. It really just became a priority in Q4, and we were able to rally our organization, rally our team to deliver a very innovative, very difficult product manufacture and make and deliver a gluten-free sandwich cracker in time for the Expo West trade show that happened in March.

“So … in just a few months we developed, pioneered, developed, launched and produced a very important new item with our Lance sandwich gluten-free crackers. We’re very proud of that as we leveraged our nimbleness to be able to roll that out.”

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