Snacking rules. And fruit snacks — of all varieties — are grabbing more and more shelf space. 
According to Innova Market Insights, one of the key growth areas in the snacks category in recent years has been fruit-based snacks. The company reports that global tracked snack launch activity has more than doubled from less than 8 percent to nearly 18 percent over the past five years. This makes it the No. 3 snacks sub-category overall after savory/salty snacks and snack nuts/seeds.
“The market is now very diverse,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “But it can generally cover a number of categories, led by dried snacking fruit, fruit bars and processed fruit snacks. 
“There is ongoing activity in emphasizing the snack positioning of fruit products, with more user-friendly packaging such as resealable stand-up pouches and small pots and trays, making them more suitable for anytime snacking,” she continues. “There has also been growth in the availability of multi-packs of individual snacks.”
Ongoing market development and evolution has seen the rising popularity of fruit and nut mixes, often featuring more unusual and exotic varieties of both, says the Innova report. So-called superfruits are strongly in evidence, varying from the relatively established, such as cranberries, to the less well-known, such as goji and acai. 
Value is also being added with the use of other ingredients and flavorings, including indulgent favorites such as chocolate, healthy additions such as yogurt and on-trend options, such as coconut.
It’s no surprise, however, that the intrinsically healthy image of fruit has also helped to drive the market forward, Innova’s research reveals. Nearly half of launches tracked in the September 2015/2016 period were positioned on a health platform of some kind, soaring to more than 85 percent in North America. 
Recent interest in clean labeling and “free from” products has been relatively easy to target in a sub-category that has an existing natural image, the study says. More than a quarter of launches used a natural and/or no additives or preservatives positioning, rising to just more than 36 percent, organic claims included. 
Interest in GMO-free claims has also risen sharply in recent years, and they are now used on about 8 percent of global launches, up from 3.5 percent five years ago, Innova reports. North America has been leading this trend, with a massive 38 percent of launches claiming to be non-GMO, up from just 12 percent five years ago.
Other health claims of ongoing interest include fiber content, which was used for more than 11 percent of global launches through the September 2015/2016 period, and sugar content (no added sugar, low sugar and sugar free), accounting for more than 10 percent.