It might not be as explicit as potato chips, pretzels and a glass of orange juice, but if new analysis from Mintel is to be believed, then salty snacks at breakfast could be the next big thing.

Moreover, Mintel claims that the most important meal of the day is the next frontier for the category.

“Nutritionists strongly advocate that people start their morning with breakfast to help fuel their activities throughout the day,” it explains. “The problem is that in many households there simply is not the time for a sit-down breakfast. With this in mind, any salty snack manufacturer that could tap into consumers’ desire to eat a reasonably healthy breakfast each day would stand out from the competition.”

The report, which was included in information distributed by Bell Flavors and Fragrances, also predicted an increase in popcorn (filing) and beef jerky (high in protein) being marketed as meal replacements.

Other potential growth areas include individual serving sizes of snacks sold with a single serving of dip or salsa; more better-for-you snacks marketed to schools; and pop corn that helps consumers replicate the movie theater experience in their living room.

The report also highlighted flavor trends. Among the more unusual flavors mentioned for snacks include: caramel, coconut & cinnamon; Caesar salad; chicken gravy & tomato; burdock; fruit chutney; and red caviar & butter.

Perhaps easier to swallow is the list of the most popular flavors, which included salt/salted, spice/spicy, cheese, beef, barbecue, onion and chili pepper. However, about 15% of product launches in the category were unflavored/plain.

Meanwhile, low/no/reduced allergen and gluten-free snacks both lost 1% of their market share, dropping to 9% and 10% respectively. However, seeing as how more than 12 million American suffer from food allergies, it’s likely that the sector isn’t going to disappear.

“Gluten is a problem for some sectors of this market (primarily wheat and other grain-based snacks), but presents a strong marketing opportunity for those which are naturally gluten-free,” the report says.

Mintel also offered an analysis of the nut category.

Some of the more unusual recently launched flavors included: nuts with a Thai green curry flavor; pumpkin seeds with tea aroma; and a mountain jelly vegetable mix with chicken jerky in a pickled chilli flavor.

Mintel explains that because flavor innovations are easier to create than say a low-fat nut, manufacturers should focus on that.

The nut forecast also predicts that premium private-label nut products will continue to thrive, and that the inherently natural image of many nut products will remain one of the category’s strongest assets.

In addition, the company says manufacturers need to clearly highlight the health advantages of their nut products, such as focusing on beneficial vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber content. They’d also be wise to explain to consumers how the fats in nuts are mostly “good” unsaturated fats with heart-healthy attributes.