Today’s snack and bakery market remains as fiercely competitive as ever. The definition of what constitutes a “snack” is tracking an evolutionary course, shifting in step with consumer trends and desires.
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).
According to FDA, more than 160 foods can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies. In the U.S., federal regulatory bodies identify eight most-common allergenic foods, which FDA says account for 90 percent of allergic reactions related to food.
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.
The chips market has grown highly diversified over the past several years. In 2017, a chip can run the gamut, including standard potato chips, chips made out of fruits or vegetables, and multigrain options.
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.