Consumers want to feel good about the snacks they eat, and The NPD Group recommends manufacturers use health call-outs to attract consumers and increase snack sales.

“Snacking today is a prevalent behavior, and there is an opportunity in every snack category for manufacturers to call out the specific health benefits, from desirable ingredients to clean labeling,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for The NPD Group. “There is also a generational slant to take into account for each category when positioning and marketing snack foods.”

The transition towards snacking with a health benefit is being driven by the youngest generations, according to The NPD Group, and includes Generation Z, ages 0-23, millennials, ages 24-37, and Generation X, ages 38-48. These groups’ positive attitudes about snacking, desire to eat more healthfully and need for convenience are among the reasons for the growth in snacks with a perceived health benefit. Baby boomers, a large number of whom have health conditions, tend to watch for sodium and sugar content in snacks.

In its report “The future of eating: Who’s eating what in 2018,” The NPD Group said consumption of better-for-you snack foods, like fresh fruit, breakfast/sports bars and yogurt, is up 14% since 2006 and is forecast to grow the fastest out of the three snack categories of better-for-you, sweet and savory. Consumption of savory snacks, which include salty snacks and dips, increased by 4% since 2006 and is also forecast to grow. Consumers have lost their sweet tooth when it comes to snacking, but with more sweet snacks offering health benefits, the market research firm’s forecast shows consumption to stabilize over the next few years.