T. Hasegawa USA has released its latest "Flavor Flash" report, focusing on the latest flavor trends in snacks.

Key findings include:

  • Consumers seek ties to the familiar, within the snack category. Almost half of consumers (47%) in a recent Mintel survey cited enjoying snacks that offer a twist on the familiar. Weaving-in emerging flavors with well-established ingredients will allow consumers to seek adventure while still having ties to familiar comforts. 
  • Health priorities point to ingredient innovation opportunities. More than 40% of consumers are seeking more snacks with functional benefits. However, flavor is still the most important attribute for choosing a snack. Branding snacks as BFY may initially attract consumers, but quality flavors will keep them coming back. 
  • Consumer awareness lags for many international flavors and ingredients. Well-established international flavors are still incredibly popular, but awareness of certain authentic international ingredients remains relatively niche. Brands who use clear terminology and draw analogies to familiar flavors can encourage trial. 
  • Parents—and especially moms—are often “super snackers” who are looking for functional snack options. More than 25% of parents in a recent Mintel survey were classified as “super snackers,” consuming snacks at least four times per day. More than 58% of moms specifically are looking for snacks that provide function, like satiation, immunity, or gut health. High interest in alternative snack ingredients like cassava, real cheese, avocado, and chickpea provide innovation opportunities that market toward this consumer group. 
  • Cheese as a snack flavor is as popular as ever—but there’s an opportunity to go "beyond cheddar" in snacking. More than 61% of consumers are interested in trying real cheese in a snack, and thanks to social media trends, specialty cheeses like feta are becoming more mainstream. Internationally-inspired cheeses offer an opportunity for innovation, as consumers become better educated in these robust cheeses that offer a twist on a traditional flavor. 
  • More than half of consumers have tried—or are interested in trying—“hot honey” as a snack flavor. This flavor has grown directionally on U.S. menus from 2018–2021 and snack brands can capitalize on this growth by leveraging hot honey as a trending flavor. 
  • The growth of “everything bagel” as a healthier snack flavor. New product launches containing “everything bagel” flavor have grown more than 600% since 2018, as it proves to be a fan favorite for healthy snack foods, mimicking the multi-dimensional bagel variety, consisting of sesame seeds, sea salt, garlic, minced onion, and poppy seeds. 
  • The snack aisle is heating up with spicy options—and younger consumers are leading this shift in demand. More than 60% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers have tried or would like to try chile lime as a snack flavor, demonstrating opportunity for both trial and long-term adoption. This interest is fueled by consumer excitement over bold daring flavors on social media, such as the "hot pepper challenge."

Click here to download the full report.