Single-Servings Mean Growth and Girth

Jul 23, 2002

Marketers are taking “food for one” to the extreme, prepackaging and repackaging everything to make it easier to eat in the car, reports The Wall Street Journal. Single-sized food packs have become the major source of financial growth for the food industry, and girth for consumers.

The increasing demand for single servings has led supermarkets, discount stores and club stores to stock large multi-packs of snack packs. At Costco Wholesale Corp., senior vice president Tim Rose has been pressuring suppliers to put together even larger multi-packs. Two years ago, after Costco asked Frito-Lay to produce a 42 pack of its 3-ounce bags of chips instead of a 36 pack, weekly sales jumped to $625,000 from $460,000, according to Mr. Rose. Three months ago, Costco stores in the Northwest started selling Nabisco fruit snacks, similar to fruit roll-ups, in packs of 80 for $9.99, instead of packs of 40 for $6.69. Sales are up 30 percent.

People eat more when they snack out of their own package, and those packages are getting bigger, according to Lisa Young, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, who tracks new products and interviews shoppers. “Research clearly shows people eat more when they’re presented with larger portion sizes,” Ms. Young says.

“A lot of manufacturers are reluctant to increase pack sizes because they don’t think it increases consumption. But it does,” Mr. Rose says. If the food is there, it’ll get eaten, he says.
Moderator Comment: Is there a larger market for healthy
on-the-go foods than is generally accepted?

Based on current offerings, it would seem that individual-serving
and healthy are contradictory terms. They’re not. Consumers that eat healthier
are also pressed for time.

Here’s a thought. J.M. Smucker has an opportunity to
grow its frozen PB&J concept in the natural foods arena. Make the sandwich
with all-natural PB&J without added sugar. Serve it on organic whole grain
bread with the crusts and you have healthy and single-serve in one package.
Anderson – Moderator

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