Seventy per cent of U.S. snackers agree that anything can be a snack, and 33% of U.S. consumers said there are not enough conveniently packaged snacks, according to 2017 consumer research from Mintel. 

“Most consumers say what defines a snack is not the category but the convenience and how it is used and consumed,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director, innovation and insight, Mintel.

As more and more shoppers seek out snacks that can be eaten anywhere at any time, they’re headed to c-stores where they can find single-serve packaging, meal replacements and a growing assortment of healthy and premium ingredient options.

Retailers project salty snack dollar sales will increase 2.3% in 2018 and a dollar sales increase of 2.8% in 2018 for alternative snacks, according to the 2018 Convenience Store News “Forecast Study.” In fact, this year’s alternative snacks category is one of the top areas predicted to do the best in c-stores.

Demand for more diverse and healthier options in c-stores creates opportunities for food manufacturers to implement product reinvention through new distribution channels. And baking and snack companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

In 2017, Otis Spunkmeyer, San Leandro, Calif., expanded its Otis Spunkmeyer portfolio to include a “No Funky Stuff” line of sweet treats. Toward the end of the year, Aryzta, Zurich, Switzerland, Otis Spunkmeyer’s parent company, reinvented the line by changing some of the packaging, sizes and flavors to launch them in c-stores.

“Why convenience? It’s pretty simple,” said Ashley Peeples, vice-president, commercial channels, Aryzta, in an interview with Food Business News in October. “If you think of convenience, there are 160,000 outlets in the country, so compared to other channels, it’s No. 1. It’s also growing.”

Called the Grab-N-Go line, it includes Chocolate Chunk Cookie, Iced Lemon Loaf Cake, Cinnamon Crumb Loaf Cake and Chocolate Mini Brownie Bites. Mr. Peeples told Food Business News that the company wanted to find white space for its products in c-stores, as well as give consumers on-the-go, healthier treats they can snack on at any time of the day.

General Mills’ Pillsbury brand added finished crescent rolls with chocolate or grape filling to its c-store products. Tyson Foods also recently added more sandwiches with new ingredients and smaller, more hand-wrapped packaging to its c-store lineup. 

Manufacturers like these — ones that already have a large c-store presence — have mastered the art of modifying products for on-the-go consumers and continue to see success in the segment.