The U.S. market for crackers exceeded $7 billion in 2013 and growth drivers in crackers are fundamentally the same as those sparking growth in the markets for healthy-ingredient snacks and salty snacks. Chief among these drivers is the fact that Americans continue to shift toward eating several small meals a day and snacking between meals, according to Crackers: U.S. Market Trends, a report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.
The consensus in the food industry is that increased snacking throughout the day represents a permanent change in the eating habits of U.S. consumers and that Americans will increasingly turn to snacks to satisfy their needs and cravings. Since 2004, the number of consumers categorized as “healthy snackers” has grown from 29 million to 41 million, or from 14% to 18% of the population. Healthy snackers form the core of a crucial consumer segment that is driven by health and wellness concerns and drawn to snacks derived from healthy ingredients such as vegetables, legumes, high-protein foods and ancient grains. As marketers of crackers launch more healthy-ingredient crackers to meet the needs of healthy snackers, the market will grow accordingly, notes Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle.
As in the case of healthy-ingredient snacks and salty snacks, many successful marketers of crackers are small, family-owned companies bringing creatively fashioned, healthy-ingredient crackers to the marketplace. These smaller marketers develop strong ties with their customers by providing authentic, artisanal products for health-conscious consumers. They often set the tone for what consumers expect from the crackers they buy in their supermarkets and grocery stores and in doing so raise the bar for the major marketers controlling the lion’s share of the market in dollar terms. Packaged Facts expects that this phenomenon will generate growth in the market for crackers as it has in other segments of the market for snacks.
Although the market for crackers is being transformed by rapid innovation and new competitors, old-fashioned and comforting crackers still endure as market mainstays that can be found in the pantries of consumers, says Sprinkle. For instance, more than 40% of households use saltines and 23% use graham crackers.