When it comes to snacking, consumers want fast, portable, value-priced,healthy, delicious and shareable snacks.Typically eaten at a time otherthan traditional mealtime, snacks can be either a single food group (thinka piece of fruit or chunk of cheese) or be a portion of a meal category (likehalf a sandwich). Bottom line? Consumers snacking habits completely re-flect the status of U.S. consumers’ lifestyles today.
Stroll the grocery aisle and it’s easy to see that snackbars have made a big image change. Yes, the expected oatmeal-based granola bar is still there, but joining it isthe protein-rich meal replacement bar or the paleo barwith unique proteins. Close by is the salty/sweet dessertbar and bars accessorized with vegetable ingredients. Theoptions are wide and varied and consumers should beable to find flavors that entice their tastes andingredients and support their health goals.
Whether in the form of nuts, popped chips, traditionalpotato chips, popcorn or crackers, salty snacks arepreferred by most consumers as the perfect partners to dips and cheeses or on their own. The category is worth$21.8 billion in sales.
(Includes all snacks: nuts, potato chips, popcorn, snack bars, snack mixes,rice snacks, fruit-based snacks, bean-based snacks)
Roasted & Salt
Sour Cream & Onion
Bacon and Whiskey
Barbecue and Seaweed
Bison Bacon and Cranberry
Carrot, Chili Pepper and Lime
Chocolate, Blueberry and Cranberry
Dark Chocolate, Coffee and Cayenne
Gluten-free and clean labels are winning withconsumers. It’s not enough to be low-sodium ornatural anymore. Consumers want to recognize andunderstand the ingredients contained in the foodsthey purchase—even their snack foods.
63% of consumers look for protein content whenpurchasing packaged food and drink, while 57% are trying to get as much protein as possible into their diet.With a third of high protein products coming from thesnacking category mostly made up of snack bars, thereis definitely opportunity for protein in the salty snackarena. Also, high protein snack bars with more than15g of protein are limited in mainstream brands, which presents opportunity.
Just because it’s labeled “snack” doesn’t mean that’show consumers consume it. Portion size, portabilityand packaging are all factors that dictate meals orsnacks in consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles. Lookfor the snacking lines to blur as manufacturersposition products based on lifestyles of their customers.
Only 20% of salty snackers will experimentwith unique flavors, but consumers growinginterest in ethnic cuisines and restaurants saysotherwise. The winner of the 2014 Frito-Lay DoUs a Flavor competition created a wasabi gingerpotato chip flavor, signifying a shift in snackingflavors. Especially seeing a surge in ethnic flavorsis the popcorn segment, as smaller boutiquemanufacturers are taking advantage of consumers’obsession with sriracha and bold flavors. This is asegment with popping sales, as ready to eat popcornsales surged to more than $750 million in 2014, an increase of 60% since 2012.
The snacking industry represents over $124 billion in retail sales in North America.
•In the U.S., salty snack sales have increased 28% since 2008 and are expected to grow another 31% by2018.
•The number of consumers who would define themselves as “healthy snackers” has grown from 2 million to 41 million since 2004.
•Snacking is an all day event for most consumers, regardless of the time of day, but 60% of consumersare snacking after noon.
• On-the-go snacking is a growing trend up 5% since 2009 with 45% of consumers looking forconvenient, easy-to-pack snacks.
• 67% of consumers snack because they are satisfying an emotional hunger, while 61% eat to quell physical hunger.
flavored popcorn image credit: StarBerry Farms