emember when snacking meant grabbing a
candy bar and soda to quell midafternoon
cravings? Not anymore!
While candy bars and carbonated beverages haven’t disappeared from consumers’ list of culinary
indulgences, those items are being upstaged by snack-worthy noshes made with better-for-you ingredients.
It’s all part of the overall trend toward healthier dining, both here and abroad. IRI’s 2017 New and Emerging
Snacking Trends found that while indulgent snacks are
outpacing healthier snacks with a growth rate of 3.4%
within the core snack category, healthier snacks are growing, too, by 0.9%.
According to Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends
for 2018, four in 10 U.S. and U.K. consumers increased
their consumption of healthy foods, while seven in 10
want to know and understand the ingredient list of the
foods they consume. In addition, one in five U. S. consumers are most influenced by “real” ingredients, the report
Translating the Trend
Just what does “better-for-you” and “healthy” mean
when it comes to the snacks and sweets category? High
protein content, clean labels and plant-based ingredients
are top of mind, industry experts say.
“In general, the love affair with protein keeps grow-
ing, with 60% of consumers actively looking for higher-
protein foods. This has resulted in a proliferation of protein-
infused snacks,” says Randy Gilbride, brand director for
Thanasi Foods, makers of the Duke’s line of meat snacks.
“Additionally, six in 10 shoppers look for ingredients they
can recognize, which has led to more snacking options
with clean/simple ingredient labels.”
Joel Warady, general manager and chief sales and
marketing officer of Enjoy Life Foods, echoes Gilbride’s
assessment. “There’s been an increase in the number
of people looking for clean, all-natural and plant-based
options and foods that fit specific diets due to medical
conditions, intolerances and food allergies,” he says.
“Nearly 100 million people shop for foods free from aller-
gens and gluten, and that number will continue to rise as
allergic reactions to peanut, seafood, wheat, dairy and
more continue to affect them.”
Warady says Blue Cross Blue Shield recently released
findings that show the number of kids treated in emer-
gency rooms for anaphylaxis spiked 150% from 2010
to 2016. “As a result, we’re seeing a rise in snacks and
sweets innovation in the larger free-from food industry
that are crafted with ingredients that are just as delicious
as those found in traditional offerings, but are free from
allergens, gluten and GMOs,” he says. “The development
in the sweets and snacks category is helping to fuel the
expansion of the $6.5 billion free-from industry, which is
projected to reach $20 billion by 2020.”
Lisa Walsh—CEO of Truco Enterprises, which makes On
The Border chips and dips—agrees that the industry is mov-
ing toward greater transparency and simpler ingredients.
To that end, Truco’s focus when developing new snacks
“has been on creating consumer-preferred products,
starting with our uniquely crafted unflavored tortilla chips,
made with only three simple ingredients of corn, oil and
salt,” she says. An influx of new flavor profiles influenced by
changing culinary influences and consumers’ broadening
taste preferences is another trend to watch, she says.
IRI’s 2017 New and Emerging Snacking Trends report
similarly calls Latin American- and Asian-inspired prod-
ucts as “trending forms and flavors” in the snack category.
“We see trends influenced by global cuisine and a pref-
A new generation of shoppers demands healthy
ingredients and product transparency when indulging
their snacks and sweets cravings. By Kathleen Furore
Growth rate of
within the core snack
Source: IRI’s 2017 New and
Emerging Snacking Trends