Snacking. It’s become a way of life, a bonafide part of our day. And with 94% of Americans admitting to snacking at least once a day and forty percent of adults substituting a snack for a meal these days, the choices required to satisfy diverse palates and dietary choices has to be bountiful, flavorful and satisfying. (1,2) Consumers are also placing a lot of pressure on snacks, especially the salty ones, to fulfill their personal goals for health, convenience, portability, taste and indulgence, presenting challenges for manufacturers. What snacks fit consumers’ punch lists and which ones satisfies the munchies?
Thin Is In
Following the lead of Oreo Thins, brands like ChipsAhoy and Wheat Thins are getting skinny. Consumers who crave crunch, especially in the mid-afternoon hours, find satisfaction with this less is more philosophy. These options promise fewer calories (35 calories per cookie for the Oreo Thin vs. 42 for the original) but may lure consumers into eating more.
Veggies and Fruits Crunchy Crossover
Consider us surprised: the apple chips segment has realized a 40% growth in dollar sales this past year, according to Snack and Bakery.com’s Snack Market Overview. Apple chips, like those offered by the market leader, Seneca, offer crunch, sweetness, a certain level of indulgence and a clean ingredient list. The brand also has a pear chip that would enhance a cheese tray.
While fruit chips are having their moment, vegetable-based chips are stealing the show. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beets or parsnips have been enjoyed by consumers for a while but newcomers like the dried snap peas or lentils loaded into Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps or their Lentil Bean are making inroads. Enhanced with seasonings like Caesar or Black Pepper, these snacks can be eaten by the handful (22 for 140 calories) with little guilt thanks to the clean label. The lowly chickpea is also experiencing a newfound popularity especially as Indian and Mediterranean cuisines are tempting consumers with unexpected spice combinations.
Dried Out, Full Flavored
Dehydrating sea veggies and kale is definitely a way to capture nutrients and flavor while giving consumers what they want in terms of that craveable crunch. Products from companies like Brad’s Raw Foods offer dehydrated broccoli chips or vegan carrot crackers that are dried at 115 degrees or less to preserve enzymes needed for easy digestion. Jerky is also experiencing a revival due to its high protein, gluten-free, low-calorie profile. Using bold, on-trend ingredients like Trader Joe’s sriracha bacon jerky or Krave’s sweet chipotle jerky is making consumers feel anything but “jerky”. Check out our Korean barbecue seasoning for your next jerky snack application.
Grains Make A Great Chip
Rice, quinoa, stone ground corn, amaranth, chia, teff and more are starring in chip bags from brands like Boulder Foods and Food Should Taste Good. Bringing a welcome healthy ingredient list and many times cooked in alternative oils like coconut or avocado, alternative grain chips are being dunked in dips and salsas by the bowlful. Lundberg Rice Chips in Fiesta Lime or Smoky Maple are a trend in a bite and the Sea Salt Truffle quinoa puffs from I Heart Keenwah are something we heart. A final shoutout to a crossover snack by Pure Foods. The company’s Trail Chips, launched last month, takes all of the goodness and diversity in a trail mix and puts it into a chip giving you the crunch you crave in a healthier option.
Sweet Sweet Snacking
Yes, we have spent more time talking about the salty snacks category because we think that is the area consumers would like healthy, tasty options and where we’ve seen dramatic change. That being said, we can’t ignore the need to satisfy the consumer’s sweet tooth that tingles every now and then. For those times, there are sweet indulgence’s like Lenny + Larry’s complete cookie, they have consumers in hot pursuit seeking its promise of high protein and indulgent taste. In flavors like Birthday Cake, SnickerDoodle, and Coconut Chocolate Chip, Lenny + Larry’s is the cookie we don’t feel guilty about. For those who prefer their sweet to have a touch of the savory, Noose yogurt is launching their Sweet+Spicy yogurt in Raspberry Habanero, Pineapple Jalapeno, Blackberry Serrano and a Mexican Hot Chocolate. To that we say, where’s the spoon?