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.
The versatile puffed and extruded snack segment is answering the call of consumers who want to try different flavor profiles and combinations. On the traditional side, products such as Cheetos continue to prosper in the marketplace. In fact, total annual sales for cheese snacks just reached $2.1 billion. Through a balance of tradition and forward-thinking innovation, this segment represents the best of both worlds.
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.
Within the past few years, choices for popcorn flavors have become more diverse. In 2017, you can choose to eat popcorn straight from the bag, made in the microwave, or even drizzled with chocolate. Consumers can even choose from flavors like honey butter and ranch. For today’s popcorn fans, this category offers more snacking options than ever before.
In a food culture that increasingly prizes clean label, fresh flavors and nutritional benefits, companies working in the freezer case need to integrate selective strategic innovations while holding true to the convenience and quality shoppers have come to expect in classic, category-leading frozen snacks and appetizers.
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.
Snack mix and nut products have extended their reach over the past year as consumers continue to seek varieties that are full of flavor innovation and adventure. “On-the-go” snack packs also appeal to consumers, and some have bold, new flavors that will make them stand out on the grocery store shelves.
Carefully considered products all have a sweet spot, that central nexus where everything comes together for a strong hit into the outfield—and for particularly astute product-development teams, the occasional home run.