Snacking has become a staple part of everyday life, and so it is no surprise that snack vending machines have become commonplace in workplaces and public spaces around the UK. But which snack takes top spot as most popular product amongst the British population?
In this blog post, we’ll uncover the most beloved confectionery treats in the UK, from crisps to delicious chocolates, as well as exploring the new products taking the snack world by storm. So, if you’re looking to find out which snacks are the UK’s favourites, read on!
History of Snacking in the UK
Though it sounds obvious, it’s worth repeating that the modern-day snacking concept only really started in the 19th century – snacking did exist in ancient times but purely as a way to consume leftovers between meals, so that food was not wasted. Today’s very deliberate snacking habits are more a result of easier and less costly access to individually portioned food and drink products.
With the rise of snacking during the late 19th century also came the rise of snack vending machines. These machines offered simple, bite-sized treats such as nuts and candies, which were popular among the working class. These vending machines provided a convenient and accessible way for people to indulge in quick snacks on the go and were the first step in the formation of a market that sees more than 6 billion products bought every year in the UK.
In the mid-20th century, snacking truly took off in the UK. The rise of convenience foods and packaged snacks, combined with the increasing availability of snack vending machines, led to a boom in the snacking industry. Consumers could now choose from a wide range of options, including crisps, chocolates, and biscuits, making snacking a ubiquitous part of everyday life.
During this time, British brands such as Walkers, Cadbury, and McVitie’s began to establish themselves as key players in the snacking market. They introduced iconic products such as Walkers Cheese & Onion crisps, Cadbury Dairy Milk, and McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits, which have become staples in snack vending machines and for snack breaks in households across the country.
The 21st century has witnessed a shift in the snacking landscape, with a growing focus on health-conscious choices. Consumers are increasingly seeking out snacks that are not only tasty but also nutritious, driving the rise of healthier alternatives such as fruit bars, protein balls, and baked crisp products. This trend has been further fuelled by the demand for vegan, gluten-free, and organic options as people become more socially and ethically aware of the food and drink they consume.
As we move forward, the snacking industry in the UK continues to evolve, with brands constantly innovating to meet changing consumer preferences. From unique flavour combinations, co-branding partnerships, and innovative packaging designs, the snack aisle has become a hotbed of creativity and variety.
Top-selling Chocolate Brands
When it comes to indulging our sweet tooth, there’s nothing quite like a delicious chocolate bar. And in the UK, there are a few chocolate brands that have become synonymous with top-quality treats. From the smooth and creamy to the rich and decadent, these brands have captured the hearts (and taste buds) of the nation.
One of the top-selling chocolate brands in the UK is Cadbury. With a rich history dating back to the early 19th century, Cadbury has become a household name known for its iconic Dairy Milk Chocolate. Whether you prefer this classic milk chocolate bar or one of their many delectable variations like Fruit & Nut or Caramel, Cadbury has a chocolate bar to suit every taste. According to Statista, the UK’s chocolate confectionery market was worth £5.3 billion in 2020, with Cadbury Dairy Milk being the best-selling brand with sales worth £259 million alone.
Another beloved chocolate brand in the UK is Nestlé. With a wide range of chocolate bars under their belt, including KitKat, Aero, and Milky Bar, Nestlé has a bar for every craving. KitKat, in particular, has become an iconic British chocolate, known for its crispy wafer and smooth milk chocolate coating, as well as being known for creative TV advertising over the last couple of decades.
Of course, we can’t forget about Mars – despite being invented by an American, Forrest Mars, Sr, the original Mars bar was manufactured in Slough and the Mars brand has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with British chocolate lovers with favourites like Snickers, Twix, and Milky Way. With their perfect balance of chewy caramel, crunchy nuts, and smooth chocolate, these bars are an irresistible treat, and are a regular fixture in the UK’s snack vending machines.
While these brands have become synonymous with top-selling chocolate in the UK, there are also many smaller, artisanal chocolate brands making a name for themselves, especially in supermarket convenience food aisles, where individual bars can now be bought as part of most meal deals. Brands like Hotel Chocolat and Lindt offer a luxurious and indulgent chocolate experience, perfect for special occasions or as a decadent lunch treat. If you’re lucky, you may just come across a snack vending machine stocked with Lindt alongside the classics.
Whether you’re a fan of the favourites or looking to try something new and exciting, the UK’s chocolate market has something for everyone. With a range of flavours, textures, and brands to choose from, it’s no wonder that chocolate remains one of the most beloved snacks in the country. So go ahead, treat yourself to a delicious chocolate bar and experience the joy of indulgence that only chocolate can bring.
Classic British Crisps and Snacks
If there’s one thing that we’re known for in the UK, it’s our love of crisps. These thin and crunchy potato chips have become a staple snack in British households and are a must-have in any snack vending machine. But with everyone having their own favourite flavour, which variant comes top of the polls for the UK on the whole?
One of the most iconic and beloved crisp flavours in the UK is salt and vinegar. The tangy and acidic taste of vinegar paired with the saltiness of the crisps creates a winning combination that has stood the test of time. Whether you’re enjoying a bag of Walkers, the undisputed king of crisps, or opting for another brand, salt and vinegar crisps are sure to leave you craving more.
Another popular crisp flavour in the UK is cheese and onion. The sharp and savoury taste of cheese mixed with the sweet and aromatic flavour of onion creates a delightful blend that is hard to resist. Walkers, again, takes the crown with their Cheese and Onion crisps, but you’ll find this flavour in many other brands as well, including in challenger brands like Tyrrells and McCoys – with both having significant followings and annual sales.
For those who prefer something a bit spicier, the UK has a variety of options to choose from. Flavours like prawn cocktail, Worcestershire sauce, and pickled onion crisps add a zingy kick to your snacking experience. These bold and unique flavours have become a part of British snack culture and are a testament to the country’s love of all things flavourful. For the ultimate spicier snack vending machine crisps, though, look no further than McCoy’s Thai Sweet Chicken crisps – they’re regularly at the top of the pile for sales in Connect’s snack vending machines!
Of course, we can’t forget about the classic ready salted crisps. While they may seem plain compared to their more adventurous counterparts, ready salted crisps offer a simple and satisfying snacking experience. The perfect balance of salt and potato flavour makes them a timeless choice that never goes out of style.
No matter what your preference, there’s a classic British crisp flavour out there for you. Whether you’re indulging in the tangy vinegar of salt and vinegar, the savoury cheesiness of cheese and onion, or the fiery heat of a spicy option, the UK’s crisp aisle is a treasure trove of snacking delights.
Rise of Health-Conscious Snacking
As our understanding of nutrition and wellness continues to evolve, so too does our approach to snacking. Gone are the days when snacks were solely seen as indulgent treats. The rise of health-conscious snacking in the UK has ushered in a new era of guilt-free munching, where consumers are prioritising both taste and nutritional value.
One of the driving forces behind the rise of health-conscious snacking is the increasing demand for snacks that offer functional benefits. From energy bars packed with protein and vitamins to snack-sized portions of fruit and nuts, there is now a wide variety of options for those looking to fuel their bodies with nutritious ingredients pre- or post-exercise. Brands like Graze and Nakd have become popular choices for health-conscious snackers, offering a range of wholesome and natural options.
Another factor contributing to the popularity of health-conscious snacks is the growing proportion of the UK’s population with special dietary requirements, either because of allergies or ethical reasons. Vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free snacks have become increasingly sought after, as more people embrace these lifestyles and dietary choices. Companies like Deliciously Ella and Raw Halo have gained a following for their delicious and health-conscious snacks that cater to these specific dietary requirements.
These changes in demand from UK consumers has also driven changes in snack vending machines, with leading ‘free from’ products now found in the majority of machines in workplaces and public spaces. It’s not just existing brands coming out with healthier alternatives of existing products, with new entrants bringing products to the market that we haven’t seen before. Mintel reported that there has been a significant increase in demand for healthier snack options, with 32% of Britons snacking on fruit or vegetables as an alternative to traditional snacks, with brands seeking out opportunities to market these items.
The rise of health-conscious snacking has also led to a shift in the types of ingredients used in snacks. Superfoods such as chia seeds, quinoa, and kale have found their way into snack bars and crisps, offering a nutrient-packed alternative to traditional snacks. This focus on natural and nutrient-dense ingredients has not only transformed the snack industry but has also influenced other sectors, such as the rise of plant-based protein snacks and the use of alternative sweeteners like stevia.
Snack favourites for the office
If you’re feeling hungry after reading this article, you’re not alone. Perhaps you’ll be heading out for your lunch break to grab a pack of crisps or a Mars bar, unable to contain the craving. Wouldn’t it be great if you had quick and easy access to snacks though?
To find out more about getting a snack vending machine in your workplace, reach out to our helpful team on 01865 341011 or send us an enquiry – our team are here to help you find the right solution for your requirements.
Whether you’re looking for something small or something to cover all your food and drink needs, let’s talk!