The COVID-19 pandemic has multiple lessons for the snack industry. Overall, the snack industry has had a strong, up year. But the degree of a “COVID bump” varied from category to category. As we emerge and plan for the future, recent—and current—product purchase behaviors can help provide a roadmap for what’s to come.

Retail sales activity over the past year demonstrated strong consumer preferences for convenience and indulgence—but with pronounced pockets of better-for-you snacks. We have seen strong demand for the better-for-you chip and puffed snack options in recent years, and that continued during the pandemic, as noted by sales data from our partner, IRI. Products like Frito-Lay’s SunChips and Hain Celestial Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws had a great year. So did the whole-grain Bear Bites graham crackers from Kodiak Cakes. Apple chips from Bare Foods and Seneca showed strength.

But we also saw indulgence and adventure in shopper selections. Chocolate-covered snacks like Chex Mix Muddy Buddies, Flipz from DeMet’s Candy, and Snack Factory’s chocolate-covered products had a fantastic year. Chocolate, after all, brings a touch of comfort in difficult times. Flavorful products like Ruffles Sabritas, Barcel Takis, and the new Cheetos Popcorn are selling through the roof. We expect these flavor-forward trends to continue.

As we emerge from the pandemic, the snack industry needs to gather to share success stories from the past year and a half—and to strategize for the future. To that end, we hope to see you at SNAXPO 2021, taking place August 22–24 in Charlotte, NC. Maybe we’ll see you in the Flavor Pavilion, where future snack flavors and formats have the potential to take shape.

And as we emerge into our new post-pandemic era of snacking, SF&WB will be there each step of the way, providing essential business information, category data and other shopper insights, supply-chain developments, and more via our new interactive eMagazine, updated Website, The Weekly Mix newsletter, Webinars, and more.

We look forward to seeing you soon—and what the future of snacking will bring.