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    The Super Bowl Boosts Snacks, Beer

    The big game is among the most important purchasing days of the entire year for these products.

    The Nielsen Company, parent to Progressive Grocer and Convenience Store News, Friday released its annual Guide to the Super Bowl, showcasing a full range of consumer and media information about the most anticipated U.S. marketing event. This year's match-up between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers will take place Feb. 1 in Tampa, Fla.

    Super Bowl Sunday is the most important snack-purchasing day of the entire year, followed by the day before the big game. Snack sales in U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores (including Walmart) are expected to reach $595 million during the two weeks surrounding Super Bowl Sunday, according to the Nielsen report.

    While potato chips enjoyed the largest dollar and volume sales during last year's Super Bowl period, tortilla chips generated the largest incremental gains, with $20.7 million and 8.3 million pounds above average sales figures, the report said.

    Dip mixes (up 38 percent vs. two-week average) and canned dips (up 24.5 percent) saw the biggest percent surge in sales compared with other snacks for the Super Bowl. And it's not just junk foods that saw their sales jump for last year's big game. Rice cakes enjoyed an 11.3 percent bump in sales in the days surrounding the Super Bowl last year, while health bars and sticks (i.e. PowerBars, LUNAbar, etc.) saw a 3.1 percent increase.

    What goes better with snacks than beer?

    Consumers purchased nearly 52 million cases of beer during the two-week period surrounding the 2008 Super Bowl, Nielsen reported. If fact, the Super Bowl is ranked eighth on the list of highest beer-selling occasions for the year. Fourth of July is No. 1.

    Beer consumption will be especially prevalent in those markets participating in the Super Bowl. At grocery stores in Phoenix -- home of last year's Super Bowl -- beer sales grew nearly 5 percent overall and were 23 percent higher than nonholiday weeks in Q1.

    Beer sales also grew 3 percent in metro New York and 12 percent in New England as the Giants and Patriots battled for the title. Meanwhile, grocery store beer sales in other markets declined nearly 2.5 percent, according to the Nielsen research.

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