Taste, nutrition and convenience propel the growing snack sector.
Busy, modern lifestyles are disrupting formal meals times. As a result, healthy, convenient, on-the-go snacks are growing in popularity. Innova Market Insights named the growth of the snack category as a key trend to watch in 2015, indicating that new product development in the snack space increased by nearly 17% per year globally from 2010-2014.
The market research firm suggested that consumers are willing to replace meals with smaller snacks throughout the day, so long as products offer great-tasting nutritional support and convenience. Furthermore, research found that consumers feel eating several healthy snacks is as good as, or even better than, eating three traditional meals, signifying a great opportunity for developing nutrient-rich, healthy snack offerings.
A recent survey from Nielsen also demonstrated the snacking trend’s staying power, reporting that one in 10 people in the U.S. said they are eating snacks instead of meals. Nielsen projected this trend will continue to increase in years to come.
Innova Market Insights noted growth of “good-for you” meat snacks in the functional food space, with products ranging from all-natural beef jerky to protein-packed, meat-based snack bars. The most common health positioning of such products in 2014 promoted high protein content (11.2%), followed by no additives/preservatives claims (9.8%) and low fat (8.9%).
Global launches of meat snacks grew at a CAGR of 29.5% over the past 5 years, according to Innova.
Tapping into this emerging opportunity, Hershey Company recently acquired KRAVE Pure Foods, a premium, all-natural jerky company. Premium jerky products represent the fastest-growing sub-segment of the estimated $2.5 billion U.S. meat snacks category.
A press release from Hershey discussing the acquisition underscored consumers’ growing demand for portable, clean label, protein rich snacks positioned for satiety.
KRAVE jerky is available in Black Cherry Barbeque Pork Jerky, Basil Citrus Turkey Jerky and Chili Lime Beef Jerky varieties; the product range is free of gluten, high fructose corn syrup and has no added nitrites or MSG.
The company reported earnings of about $35 million in net sales over the last 12 months and was named one of Forbes’ 2015 America’s Most Promising Companies.
As more consumers associate typical snacks like cookies or chips with unhealthy eating, health-conscious shoppers are turning to fruit-based snacks because of their simple, recognizable ingredients and connection with wellness.
Key claims for fruit snacks include an association with naturalness, and links to natural sugars and fibers.
For example, Wholesome Valley Foods, Santa Monica, CA, offers Barnana, chewy dried banana bites positioned as “The Super Potassium Snack.” According to the company, this product is organic, sustainably harvested, non-GMO, high in fiber and gluten free. In addition, Barnana has no additives or preservatives and is naturally sweetened.
The brand will be launching new natural flavors such as Apple Cinnamon and Coffee at this year’s Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA.
Innova Market Insights reported that sales of fruit snacks have grown by approximately 37% per year since 2010.
Snacks claiming to keep you feeling fuller longer are growing in prominence, according to Innova. New product launches positioned for their satiety benefit were up 198% in 2014. Links to fiber content and protein propelled this segment of the snack category, as seen by a variety of launches that included breakfast cereals, yogurts and snack bars.
Tapping into this trend, Setton Farms, Terra Bella, CA, has created Pistachio Chewy Bites. This new product promotes itself as a “good source” of dietary fiber, with a balance of “good” carbohydrates, protein and fat to help support sustained energy and curb one’s appetite. Pistachio Chewy Bites are gluten- and dairy-free, have no cholesterol or trans-fat, and are low in sodium. Featuring 30 different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, the chewy cranberry and pistachio snack is portion controlled and is positioned to help lower weight by providing a “smart snacking” option.
While consumers are looking for healthy snack options, Innova stressed that indulgence is still a crucial driver of snack sales. Taste is king, and manufacturers still need to consider flavor and texture when developing new and healthy snack options.
Marketed as a “high protein, low fat, creamy indulgence,” Stonyfield Organic has introduced Stonyfield Petite Crème to offer a similar nutritional profile to Greek yogurt, but with a milder, creamy taste and texture. Modeled after French fromage blanc, Petite Crème is a yogurt alternative offering 10 grams of protein per cup. It is also certified gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, and free from pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. The sweet cheese snack is available in a variety of indulgent flavors such as Vive la Vanilla!, La Vie en Strawberry, Belle Blueberry, Mon Cherry Amour, Ooh lala Peach, Plain & Simple, and Strawberry-Banana Mènage.