For bakeries and cafés, the crisps and snacks market, worth £2.6bn in 2009 according to Mintel, can be a lucrative part of their business.

Health continues to be one of the dominant trends in new product development. Some of the fastest-growing snack products of the past five years have been cereal bars and dried fruit and nuts. Mintel data shows that the dried fruit and nuts market grew 40.9% to £566m in the period between 2004 and 2009, while cereal bars grew 39.1% to £324m. Even fresh fruit was in substantial growth, up 25.5% during the same period.

Acceptable indulgence

According to Steve Gotham, projects director of Allegra Strategies, which analyses the food retail market, consumers say they want to be healthy but often buy indulgent products when they visit bakeries and cafés. A recent report into coffee shops by Allegra Strategies highlighted that consumers see these trips as "a bit of me time", which make indulgence more acceptable. But he suggests demand for healthier products is likely to grow. "There is no doubt it is going to gain traction in the out of home market," he says.

To tap into this trend, last December Walkers relaunched four of its products Quavers, Squares, Wotsits and French Fries in packets of less than 99 calories. The move was designed to appeal to more women and health-conscious consumers.

Gotham also believes healthier products could be presented in a more attractive way than at present. "Reduced fat and lower sugar are negative statements," he says. They are immediately associated with a not very enjoyable eating experience, there is a form of denial."

Cranberry Enterprise, which produces dried fruit and nuts some coated with yoghurt is one company trying to break that perception. It is trying to break into more bakery and café outlets and has recently launched a new pre-pack range of products, which it says combine both health and indulgence. Coated cranberries, dried banana chips and chocolate covered macadamias are among the products in the range in 40g and 100g bags with respective RSPs of 99p and £1.99.

"A lot of people say they want to eat healthily but their purchasing behaviour doesn’t live up to their aspirations," says Trevor Stroud, sales director. "So we’re trying to lead them down the path towards healthy snacking. Some of our range is very healthy we do a mixed berry range and a mixed raw nut range. Then we do some coated nut products, such as honey cashews, which are reasonably healthy, and other products that are more of an indulgence, such as yoghurt-coated cranberries and banana chips.

To maximise sales, Stroud recommends merchandising snacks on a counter-top stand by the till. However, he acknowledges limited space in some bakeries and cafés makes other options more practical. Cranberry provides counter-top stands, floor stands, wicker baskets and clip strips to help retailers merchandise the products effectively.

Fruity option

There are also some new cereal bars on the market. Lyme Regis Foods has launched a new range called Fruitus Smoothie Bars, containing one portion of fruit per serving. Alpen has also relaunched its bar range, with more fruit variants.

If you have a regular lunch trade, intro-ducing meal deals, combining a packet of crisps or a cereal bar with a sandwich and drink, can significantly boost sales.

Walkers claims that while 91% of consu-mers enjoy a sandwich at lunchtime, just 26% have crisps with their lunch. Meal deals are particularly effective at upping sales of snack products, Walkers says, because almost 60% of consumers actively look to buy products on promotion.

If you are considering stocking a range of crisps, you could sell mainstream brands such as Walkers, alongside premium brands, such as Glennans, which makes vegetable crisps including parsnip and sweet potato. As well as crisps, Tyrrells also manufactures snacks including wasabi-coated peanuts and Thai chilli rice crackers. Burts has also teamed up with TV personalities the Hairy Bikers to launch a range of crisps this May, including the flavours Prosciutto & Blue Cheese and Chicken Tom Yum.