Per IRI, Chicago, the salty snacks category was valued at $22.6 billion for the 52 weeks ending April 16, 2017—a number that encompasses potato chips, tortilla chips, extruded/puffed snacks including cheese puffs, ready-to-eat (RTE) popcorn, corn chips, pretzels and pork rinds—and sales were up 3.60 percent for the year (see the July “State of the Industry—Snacks” issue for detailed category data).
The current plant-based protein trend is directly in line with public health findings, including recommendations to increase intake of nuts to improve overall diet quality. Nuts and seeds contribute dietary nutrition, as well as adding flavor, visual interest and texture to snacks and baked goods.
As students of all ages head back to school, parents find themselves searching anew for the latest, better-for-you, healthy school snacks that their children can pack into their lunchboxes and backpacks—snacks that feed their mind, as well as their belly.
At its core, eating quality seals the deal on the repeat purchase of a snack. Those of us in the industry might rank a snack’s hedonistic level—the level of pleasure consumption delivers. Snacks can also face organoleptic scrutiny, determining its positive (or negative) interactions with our senses.
Manufacturers of tortilla and tostada chips continue to expand the boundaries of their offerings, in terms of both more imaginative flavors and attempts to address consumer concerns about the healthfulness of a category traditionally known for corn, salt and carbs.
Once a simple snack aisle staple, the humble pretzel is experiencing a resurgence, as restaurant menus tap into the classic flavors of this ubiquitous snack. According to Mintel, Chicago, there has been significant growth in the number of pretzel buns on menus recently, to the tune of 97 percent more items on menus than in previous years.
Crackers remain one of the most- important segments in snacks, valued at $7.4 billion. And current innovations related to ingredients, formats and flavor profiles could drive more growth over the coming year.
Over time, select trends across food emerge, rise to prominence and then grow fully intertwined into the fabric of the industry itself. Such is the case with “better-for-you,” a term that has grown to encompass any product that has some level of nutritional improvement over a “traditional” version of the very same product.