THE pint of lager and packet of crisps has long been a pub staple, but with more and more venues blurring the line between bar and restaurant is there still a place for snacks in the on-trade?
Snack manufacturers and suppliers think so – and say there are a number of steps bar operators can take to enhance this side of their business.
Ayman Nasreldin, director of out of home at PepsiCo, the firm behind Walkers Crisps and Walkers premium Market Deli range, said “providing a core range of snacks is important” to the licensed trade as the category offers “a great sales opportunity for pubs”.
Variety is the key to a strong snacks offer according to Nasreldin, who used the Walkers range as an example of how stocking products at different price points can increase the number of sales opportunities.
“It is important to offer a variety of different ranges to consumers, including a core range but also offering a more premium option, like Market Deli,” said Nasreldin.
“Walkers Market Deli meets consumer demand for tasty deli snacks with an authentic taste by providing a premium experience, with even more variety for consumers who have a passion for food.”
And while publicans may experiment with different approaches to their snacks range, the key thing, according to Nasreldin, is to stock quality products which will keep customers coming back for more.
“It is important to stock the products that consumers love and that drive a great rate of sale for publicans,” he said.
Ron Hickey, sales director for catering on-trade and licensed at Bestway Wholesale, also highlighted the importance of stocking snacks with a track record of keeping customers satisfied.
“The best-selling snacks remain popular, and it would be a brave licensee who took cheese and onion off sale, but the move towards spicier flavours and premium products continues, and so flavours such as chilli are seeing increased sales to pubs and bars,” he said.
A strong core range may be key to ensuring buoyant snacks sales, but there’s still plenty of room for variation, according to Hickey, who suggested operators take full advantage of snack producers’ seasonal and limited edition releases.
“The major snacks suppliers regularly offer limited edition flavours, enabling operators to vary their range without switching to unfamiliar brands,” he said.
“Snacks perceived as healthier, such as popcorn, are also continuing to grow.”
Richard Metcalf-Penny of The Hot Nut Company, which supplies the Scottish on-trade with a range of bar snacks, was optimistic about the sales potential snacks offer in the Scottish on-trade for publicans who get their range right.
“Although we are based in Warwick, England, we notice that our Scottish business is always particularly healthy,” he said.
“Our bar snacks can help drink sales as they make you thirsty, especially our coated chilli, Thai red curry and Wasabi peanuts, as well as any salted lines and we also have a black pepper cashew that is particularly nice.”
While snacks sales offer publicans the opportunity to boost high-margin sales, there’s no doubt that space behind any bar is at a premium, but Metcalf-Penny reckons his firm has an efficient solution for pubs and bars.
“Space is normally at a premium so we offer the choice of hot nut warming machines, our nuts in jars concept, as well as the more traditional range of small packets which can be supplied individually, on a card, or on clip strips, therefore covering every eventuality,” he said.
A strong snack range will get operators so far with sales but customers need to know what’s on offer.
Metcalf-Penny suggested seeking support in this area from snack suppliers able to provide promotional materials for their range.
Licensees should consider putting bar snacks onto their general food menu.
“We have both A3 and A4 posters available as well as beer table mats and chalk boards,” he said.
“Licensees should also consider putting bar snacks onto their general food menu or a dedicated snack menu on the tables.”
Tony Goodman, chief executive at Yumsh Snacks, the firm behind gluten-free brand Ten Acre, agreed that publicans should make their snack range “as prominent as possible”.
“Signs and boards highlighting flavours, such as Ten Acre’s Pastrami Crisps or Wasabi popcorn, are sure to intrigue people and tempt them to try,” said Goodman.
Pairing snacks with drinks was also suggested by Goodman as an effective way of driving up sales.
“To boost bar snack sales, operators can suggest pairings to consumers when they order,” said Goodman.
“Ten Acre’s Cappuccino popcorn is delicious served with a glass of Prosecco, whereas Pastrami is the perfect partner to beer.
“There could even be a pairings board where guests can see which snack goes with their beverage choice – a fun and engaging way to secure a sale.”