Super Bowl Sunday snacking was more serious than ever before

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Americans consumed the equivalent of 270 jumbo jets-worth of snacks on Super Bowl Sunday. Pic: GettyImages/Lew Robertson
Americans consumed the equivalent of 270 jumbo jets-worth of snacks on Super Bowl Sunday. Pic: GettyImages/Lew Robertson

Related tags: Frito-Lay US Snack Index, Super bowl, Snac International, Us, Potato chips, Doritos, Cheetos, Iri

While Americans forked out $30.5bn for snacks in 2021, according to Chicago-based market researcher IRI, the event that really got them tucking in was this year’s Super Bowl Sunday, with SNAC International data showing a whopping 112 million pounds of snacks were consumed during the Big Game, the equivalent of 270 jumbo jets.

IRI data reveals sales of snacks in the US grew by nearly 7% last year, outpacing total food and beverage trends. Potato chips was up 3%, dried fruit rose by 15%, toasted corn nuts increased by 16.2% and dried meat was up 21.3%.

But the event that really saw sales spike was Super Bowl Week 2021, with total snack sales jumping 12.5% to $487m (from $370m in 2021), according to new data from SNAC International, with refrigerated dips and tortilla chips leading the pack. 

“In America, football, snack foods and fun go together,”​ said Elizabeth Avery, president and CEO of SNAC.

The new snacking data, provided by IRI, compared 2021 shopping data from Super Bowl week to the prior week:

Refrigerated dips

33.3%

This year, 9 out of 10 American did the dip versus 7 in 10 in 2021

Tortilla chips

26.5%

 

Potato chips

12.2%

Especially spicy flavours

Pretzels

9.2%

 

Pork rinds

7.6%

 

Creating happy memories

The figures were confirmed by the fifth-annual Frito-Lay Snack Index, which found that people are snack even more frequently than 2021. Why? Because it brings them joy.

Frito-Lay is an official sponsor of Super Bowl LVI. The US Snack Index for 2022 was conducted in January among 2,210 adults who planned to watch the Super Bowl. The interviews were conducted online and data was weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race and region.

“The Super Bowl is not just about football, it’s about gathering to make happy memories with friends and family,”​ said Mike Del Pozzo, SVP sales & chief customer officer, PepsiCo Foods North America.

“This year, the snack table featured Cheetos Flamin’ Hot, Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili and Doritos Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch because more than eight out of 10 Americans enjoy spicy snacks.”

Snack food sales volume and spending rose from 2020 to 2021, signalling that snack consumption grew regardless of whether or not the game took place with traditional parties or gatherings or in the midst of COVID precautions.

This signals a bright future for snacking growth.

“Despite supply chain concerns impacting manufacturers of all kinds, America’s snack food companies are working overtime to ensure consumers have access to their favourite snack foods for the 2022 Super Bowl,”​ added Avery.

Super Bowl snack sales spike

Frito-Lay’s annual US Snack Index examines Super Bowl watch habits, including what consumers were snacking on throughout their celebration and how they stocked up for the Big Game.

Key findings included:​    

  • 94% adults said snacks have the ability to create enjoyable moments, while 84% believe they play a key role in creating happy moments with friends and family.
  • 27% of respondents said they tried snacks they’ve never had before and there was a definitely tendency towards spicier snacks, especially among Millennials (83%) and Gen Zs (79%). Older generations still prefer the classic flavours, including 62% of Baby Boomers and 46% of Gen X’ers compared to 32% of Gen Zs and 30% of Millennials.
  • 52% chose potato chips among their top three favourite snacks, with 71% saying they are a vital component on Super Bowl Sunday.
  • While commercials are avidly watched during the game. Overall, ads for food & beverages are the ones most enjoyed by 60% of Americans, with animals (18%) and tech (10%) following.
  • However, these ads are not just be watched during the game – 31% viewed them on social media, with all audiences most excited to watch funny (94%) and uplifting (88%) commercials, 84% prefer commercials that have a nostalgic feel to them. 

This year, Lay’s delivered a journey down memory lane with a campaign that reminded people to Stay Golden throughout life’s moments and even some hilarious mishaps, returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 17 years.​ Frito-Lay’s Flaming Hot brand also had its own commercial for the first time, with Doritos and Cheetos showing fans what the world would look like by unleashing ‘Your Flamin’ Hot.

Additional market trends showed:

  • This year, 60% of women claimed to tune into game day.
  • Compared to 2021, more adults planned to host a gathering this year (17% vs. 7%).
  • 72% stocked up on snacks at the grocery store, up 5% year-over-year, compared to 8% online and 7% from a convenience outlet.
  • When buying snacks for the Super Bowl this year, 91% look for snacks that are tried and true favourites that are also easy to find in stores.
  • Consumers also express a preference for snacks that are low-priced (83%), and when it comes to sharing, 72% of adults prefer a larger, family-size for sharing rather than a variety pack of single-serve snacks. Despite this, nearly half (49%) like to snacks right out of the bag.
  • Snacking will look different in Cincinnati and Los Angeles, but both will be health conscious this Super Bowl.
  • Cincinnati Super Bowl fans tend to shy away from choosing spicy snacks over non-spicy snacks (46%), while the majority of LA fans (54%) love them.
  • Los Angelenos love to pair their Super Bowl snacks with guacamole (71%) and salsa (62%); those in Cincinnati prefer salsa (55%) and buffalo chicken dip (46%).
  • While both cities place potato chips at the top of their list (60% Cincinnati vs 47% LA), Los Angelinos also expressed a passion for cookies (37% LA vs. 29% Cincinnati)
  • Cincinnati residents are more likely to be inspired to try new snacks by friends or family (29% Cincinnati vs. 23% LA) while those in Los Angeles are more likely to be persuaded by store displays (32% LA vs 21% Cincinnati).
  • Cincinnati boasts a higher number of football fans with 45% saying they are avid football fans, compared to 34% of Los Angelinos who say the same.

Founded in 1937, SNAC International (formerly Snack Food Association) represents over 400 companies worldwide, including suppliers, marketers and manufacturers, focused on connecting the industry through education, advocacy and networking.

Related topics: Retail & Shopper Insights, Biscuits

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