Snack-Happy Consumers

February 15, 2016
Flavor Ingredients Snacks Trends
This report was so packed with snacks that we couldn't fit it all on the blog. Click here for the full report!

If you haven’t noticed, the American consumer has become snack-obsessed. With 94% of consumers admitting to snacking at least once a day and half snacking 2-3 times a day, creating a new snack formulation is a pretty safe bet. Consider this your guide to all things snacking. We will reveal snacking insights, drivers, flavors and unique applications that have consumers opening the box, digging in the bag or tearing open the pouch on a daily basis.

The Third Degree - Quick Snack Facts

  • 1/3 of snackers pay close attention to their sweet snack consumption, limiting treats like cookies, candy, and ice cream.
  • 1/3 of consumers are making healthier snack choices than in 2014.
  • 1/3 of parents are serving healthier snacks to their kids.
  • 1/3 of snackers want more conveniently packaged snacks


Driving the Snack Bus

When it comes to snacking, consumers have several motivations other than they’re just plain hungry or to satisfy a craving. The main drivers of consumer snacking include:


With more than half of U.S. consumers trying to take some control over the healthfulness of their diets, the need for BFY (better for you) snacks is greater than ever. And more than 20% of consumers expect added nutrition from their snacks like protein.


One of the reasons 62% of consumers snack other than hunger is to satisfy boredom, but their health goals can conflict with mindless snacking. This is where taste and flavor come into play. Creating tasty applications with bold, full flavored profiles, especially in portion- controlled formats, gives consumers the flavor they want in a calorie- friendly size. In every snack, healthy or otherwise, 51% of consumers agree taste and flavor matters more than health because if a snack doesn’t taste great, they are not eating it no matter how healthy.

Clean Label

More and more companies are trying to give consumers what they want—and that is a clean label with ingredients that they recognize and are minimally processed. The simpler is still the better for consumers when it comes to the labels and ingredient lists for their snack selections, especially the 44% of Millennials who pay particular attention.


A snack also has to be convenient. If it requires lots of prep, is in too big of a bag or makes a mess, a consumer is most likely going to make a different choice. Ready to eat (RTE) snacks are important to 77% of snackers which speaks to the importance of convenience.

Snacking Occasions

Snacking takes place for consumers at any time of the day, and a snack can be made of any food group, at any time. Ramen for a midday morning pick-me-up? Yes. A frozen peanut butter coated banana at bedtime? Sure thing. What is interesting is that for most consumers, snacks are at their healthiest early in the day while progressively becoming more indulgent as the day turns to night. Snacks also become sweeter as the hours pass when consumers bring out ice cream containers and cookie boxes looking for a little treat.

In the Snack Bag, Categorically Speaking

To assist you with your product development efforts, we’re taking a closer look at some popular snack categories with a keen eye to consumer drivers, flavors and new product highlights. And, be sure to read to the end where we cover categories that are blurring day-part lines and gaining customer interest.


Convenient, portable, sweet or savory – bars are the perfect snack for most consumer groups. Bars can be classified as nutritional, performance (protein), weight loss or snack bars even though all qualify as snacks. About 69% of consumers agree eat bars on a regular basis.
Bar Trends

  • Consumers respond to functionality in bars, and this is one area that could help bars maintain a strong foothold in the snack market. High protein, high fiber, low sugar, and natural ingredients are traits desired in bars. Also, women would like to see bars that promote fullness or satiety to help meet weight loss goals.
  • Natural ingredients resulting in a clean label are important to 26% of consumers when choosing a bar. The success of Kind bars with its simple and short ingredient statement speaks to this preference.
  • If asked to dream up the perfect bar, 65% of consumers would develop a healthy bar and 28% would create an indulgent one.
  • Only 19% of consumers use bars as meal replacements while 48% treat bars as between-meal snacks, creating opportunity for positioning.

Bar Flavors

Certain flavor combos are popular when it comes to bars. Fruit and nut, chocolate and nut, sweet and nut – you get the idea – nuts in bars contribute protein, flavor and a health halo. Chocolate is another recurring ingredient, especially dark chocolate which is perceived as healthier. Spice in the form of cinnamon is seen as boosting satiety along with it health benefits. Finally, berry flavors like blueberry and strawberry continue their reign with antioxidant properties and the perception of freshness. Here are the flavors that star.

For much more information about bars, including new product introductions — click here for the full report!


The flavors of Greece have helped expand yogurt to American consumers, creating an $8 billion category.20 While the category may seem saturated, it is far from plateauing. Formats like drinkable yogurt, expanding into savory flavors and appealing to younger consumers will give the category the legs to carry it into the future.

Yogurt Trends

  • Despite its high protein content, especially in Greek yogurt, the category faces similar issues as bars concerning sugar in the U.S.
  • Yogurt consumption drops with age, with 83% of kids consuming yogurt while 58% of adults ate it on a regular basis in 2014.
  • Consumers are interested in drinkable yogurt formats but 80% have yet to try them and many need more familiarity before doing  so.
  • Regardless where it comes from, the category is expected to experience a 28.8% growth by 2020 with over $724 million in sales from $562m in 2015.
  • The recent blending of yogurt products with oats and ancient grains  are line extensions that create a breakfast health synergy consumers appreciate. The convenience, portability, and high protein content of yogurt combined with the fiber benefits of grains could be the perfect satiating snack.


Yogurt Flavors

Yogurt flavors run the gamut covering themes of health, indulgence, freshness and satiety. Grain ingredients like oats or chia bring satiety and are at their best when combined with blueberry, strawberry, apple, and cranberry. Yogurt as dessert is a two-for-one bonus with dessert-inspired flavors like key lime pie or strawberry cheesecake making an afternoon snack feel like a treat. And the younger set will be pleased with the addition of party flavors like root beer or cotton candy while their parents appreciate the fact they are eating them in a healthy yogurt. Speaking of health, flavors like coconut, dark chocolate, and pomegranate challenge consumers’ palates and bring a sense of wellness while berry flavors offer freshness.

For even more snacking details, including about male consumer interest in yogurt, click here for the full report!

Salty Snacks

A tasty vehicle for dips and salsas or comfortable going solo, a salty snack satisfies like no other. And it’s no wonder as 90% of households in the U.S. purchase salty snacks with 82% purchasing solely for their own consumption.26 With $5.6 billion sales in 2014, an increase of 15% from 2009, salty snacks fill the bill for consumers looking to satisfy between meal cravings and increased snacking occasions.27

Salty Snack Trends

  • Better-for-you snacks are becoming more available in segments like popcorn, which has experienced a whopping 21%  growth in sales between 2009-2014, are meeting consumer demands. Popcorn is flavor-friendly, RTE and has a high health perception among consumers making it the perfect snack. Plus, it is has a high satiety factor.
  • About 76% of consumers believe that there are healthier salty snack options than ever but 80% feel that they should be eaten in moderation.
  • Taste is the priority with consumers as 63% value a salty snack’s ability to indulge over its  nutrition.
  • Ancient grains, root vegetables, and especially seaweed continue  to bring the health to the salty snack category. Seaweed, popular with some consumers since the 80’s, is a real presence on national grocery chain shelves in a variety of palate-pleasing flavors like onion, sriracha, and BBQ.
  • Clean label is of course growing in salty snacks, with 56% of consumers concerned about the ingredients in salty snacks. The FDA’s ruling on partially hydrogenated oils resulted in a 20% low/no/reduced fat claim increase between  2009-2014.


Salty Snack Flavors

While cheese and plain rank near the top of salty snack flavors, there is a definite spice factor making strong inroads. Consumers, especially Millennials, love bold flavors on their salty snacks and with healthy formats, flavor can bring the indulgent factor. Foodservice is seeing a proliferation of bitter flavors especially on canvases like kale and root vegetable chips that is expected to make its way into retail. Think Matcha green tea chips or dill pickle flavored chips. Lay’s recent “Do Us a Flavor” campaign had Reuben flavored chips complete with sauerkraut so why shouldn’t bitter be next?

For even more details, including new product introductions, check out the full report!

Blurred Lines: The Snacks That Are Crossing Over

With 70% of consumers agreeing that anything and everything is becoming a snack, some categories have the potential to make big moves, spreading their flavor love into snacks.37 Here are the potential movers and shakers:

Mini Meals

The idea that anything can be a snack is transitioning from trend to rule in the industry. Consumers young and old agree that sometimes something more than a bar or bag of chips is needed to curb a craving or midday hunger pang. Called the mini meal, these smaller portions give consumers the opportunity to eat something light, yet more substantial than a snack, to tide them over between meals. Mini meals are practically a new snack category in their own right, blurring boundaries with smaller sizes of applications like frozen foods or protein amped dips that up the ante with additions of beans, legumes, grains, meat, poultry, dairy, etc. to deliver the desired health benefits.


The cracker as a chip is not new, but is slowly catching on. A healthier, lighter version of a potato chip but with the flakiness and vehicle capability of a cracker makes the cracker/chip snacking crossover consumers are hungry for.

  • Cheez-It Grooves Original Cheddar Crispy Cracker Chips are described as the best of Cheez-It and a chip in one.
  • Kellogg’s Special K Salt and Vinegar Cracker Chips are said to be irresistibly zesty with a punchy flair.


Is “souping” the next big thing? Certain companies like Tio Gazpacho are banking on it. While soup king Campbell’s has had a drinkable soup format, chilled drinkable soups are newer to the category and might be the perfect fit for the snacking consumer who is tired of juicing and wants something savory and more filling. While consumers haven’t quite caught on to the idea of drinkable soup, as more products enter the market especially in shelf stable formats, the nutrition profile and satiety will have them skipping the bowl.



As the cracker chip has had success, the sweet crisp hopes to have the same. Bringing sweet cookie flavors into a snack format is a way to leverage flavors without being classified as dessert.

  • Goodness Knows Cranberry, Almond and Dark Chocolate Snack Squares are made with tangy sweet cranberries, roasted almond, dark chocolate and hand-picked cocoa beans.
  • Specially Selected Cranberry Almond Sweet Crisps are naturally lactose free, kosher certified, and provide sixty calories per four piece serving.


Beverages want a seat on the grain train as well. Incorporating grains into a beverage creates a nutrition powerhouse that is convenient, filling and time saving when compared to preparing a bowl of oatmeal.

  • Ancient Grains Nuwi Quinoa Smoothie with Strawberry is said to offer a super punch of nutrition by being high in complete vegan protein with all nine essential amino acids


Consumers’ busy lifestyles and nutrition needs are driving the snack market creating a demand for convenient, healthy and flavorful concepts.FONA is here to help! Our flavor technologists are ready to assist you in developing your next winning snack application – savory or sweet. Contact us today.

Sources:  Mintel, Greenwald Group, Food Business News

For the full report, click here! 



Let FONA’s market insight and research experts translate these trends into product category ideas for your brand. They can help you with concept and flavor pipeline development, ideation, consumer studies and white space analysis to pinpoint opportunities in the market.
Our flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. We understand how to mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical
requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution.

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