Pretzels in various guises are growing in popularity and in sales. They’re taking new forms, are stuffed with fillings and are being flavored with special coatings or seasonings. They’re being reformulated to be gluten-free, trans-fat-free and lower in calories and sodium.
Despite the economy being no fun and games, this is a time of opportunity for snack marketers, according to market research firm SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago. The chances are tempered only by the industry’s ability to understand and address the needs and wants of consumers. Snacks play various roles in consumers’ lives, and in the last several years, SymphonyIRI says, largely in response to a prolonged economic rollercoaster ride, those roles are changing. They continue to change today, as the economy slowly takes the merry-go-round out of the recession.
“We see two major trends emerging and shaping the snack foods category,” says Shannon Gilreath, assistant marketing manager at Farm Rich Products Corp., St. Simons Island, Ga. “Nesting is one. With a tight economy, more consumers are cooking and entertaining at home. As people look for ways to minimize household expenditures, they’ll look for quality products that are affordable but have the tastes and quality they want to serve friends and family. We see this trend continuing throughout 2011 and driving demand for frozen snacks that fit these parameters.”
Around for hundreds of years, pretzels have certainly stood the test of time, becoming one of America’s favorite snacks. Studies show that about 52% of Americans are watching their diets and are eating healthier than they did a year ago, says Gilreath.
“In fact, the U.S. population in general is becoming more health-conscious and looking to lose weight and improve nutrition. Consumers still want indulgences, but want something that is healthier and/or better for you. This means that people who purchase in our category are most interested in seeing healthier versions of frozen snacks such as whole-grain, low-sodium, low-calorie and low-fat options/versions.”