Happy early Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers!

Turkey may be the star of tomorrow’s feasts, but let’s not forget, Americans love to snack. Many will munch on chips, dips and other appetizers while they’re watching football or waiting for the roasted bird to turn a delicious golden brown.

How can snack brands make sure their snack products are on Americans’ holiday tables? Or in their cabinets and lunch boxes the rest of the year? It all comes down to nutrition and taste, says Innova Market Insights.

The market research firm said new product development is reflecting the industry’s push toward added value, both in terms of taste and nutritional benefits.

And consumers are taking note. Just over 45 percent of consumers eat salty snacks between meals in the afternoon, while 37 percent do so in the evening. The number of consumers who eat salty snacks at lunchtime (23 percent), dinner (17 percent) and breakfast (8 percent) are also on the rise.

The phenomenon of substituting meals with snacks has encouraged consumers to seek out snacks with greater nutritional value. Snack food manufacturers are working to meet this need, with launches of nut and seed snacks growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11 percent between 2014 and 2018.

Snack mixes also appear to be benefiting from this trend, with introductions up 16 percent over the same period. Many mixes contain nutritious fruits, nuts and seeds, but they can also include more indulgent elements such as chocolate chips or candy pieces.

Manufacturers can also appeal to consumers’ adventurous side by incorporating unique, bold flavors into their products. Sriracha and wasabi, for example, have been popular flavors over the last few years.

“Enjoyment is still a very strong driver behind snacks purchase,” says Lu Ann Williams, head of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “When asked why they buy salty snacks, 40 percent of Americans named taste and a further 22 percent said it was to treat or reward themselves, so innovators need to balance nutrition and taste to ensure that salty snacks remain competitive for all snacking occasions.”

A trip down any grocery store’s snack aisle shows there’s robust competition in the snacking space, but brands are finding ways to stand out. Surely, consumers will be thankful for the healthy, innovative snacking options manufacturers bring to the table.