According to the State of the Industry report, presented by Jared Koerten, senior analyst, Euromonitor International, the savory snacks are largely responsible for the growth in the snack market. With 3% sales growth from 2008-14, savory snacks represented the third-fastest growing category in the snack industry, sitting behind bars and yogurt.
Much of this growth may be explained by consumers’ demand for portable food and snacks as a meal replacement. This may be seen in the decline in sales of traditional breakfast foods such as cereal and the rise in sales of bars and yogurt, as reported by Euromonitor. This meal replacement idea, however, comes with a catch.
“If we’re going to snack in place of meals, consumers want something that will keep them full, such as high-protein snacks, yogurt, nuts and meat snacks,” Koerten said. When breaking down snack growth by nutritional attributes, protein outpaced all others with an 8% increase.
The interest in better-for-you snacks as a meal replacement also has consumers attempting to educate themselves on what is healthy, and unfortunately, the often turn to the Internet.
“Consumers want information about food, but they’re turning to ‘Dr. Google’ to get it,” said Phil Lempert, Supermarket Guru, continuing on to say that the misinformed consumer is a dangerous player in the food industry. Lempert urged snack producers to clean up their labels and front-of-package claims by making them less sensational and more practical.
“You need clarity to dispel the wrong information consumers are getting from technology and Google,” he warned.
Lempert urged snack makers to keep an eye on craft beer and its application to the rest of the food industry. Like the popularity of craft beer, people want artisan-like foods that stand for something, whether that be taste, quality, health or something unique, he said.
Changing palates are also challenging the snack market and pushing the boundaries of flavors and ingredients. Growing interest in cooking shows, home-cooking and gourmet ingredients have brought up the sophistication of the American palate. This has in turn upped the ante in snack food flavors. Lempert pointed to smoked as the next big thing. Koerten pointed to consumers’ interest in spicy and sweet and savory crossovers as places where snack producers could innovate.
As the food industry settles into a new normal, Lempert pointed out three ways snack producers can gain traction with consumers: catering to health and wellness, creating “wow” experience and celebrating food.
“Every package of snack food you sell should be a celebration,” he said.