- Many consumers are engaging in daily snacking, with many looking for better-for-you snacks.
- Check out how brands are succeeding with offering an enjoyable experience and nutritional benefits in snacks.
With so many consumers engaging in daily snacking, the option of better-for-you snacks has become an expectation. According to The Hartman Group, 69% of global consumers agree a snack is a moment of indulgence, while 67% agree a snack is something that offers a nutritional boost.1 This balance is key. Better-for-you does not necessarily mean healthy, but it does mean less of the bad and more of the good.
Many manufacturers are achieving this by reducing added sugars and calories, either through formulation or portion control such as minis or portion packs. They’re also making sure their products contain a healthy dose of the most in-demand nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Protein-rich foods continue to dominate new product launches, with grams of protein often featured on the front of the package. For today’s consumers, protein signals a healthier product. The demand for plant-based protein, in particular, continues to grow as more consumers embrace a flexitarian eating pattern.
For protein snacks, yogurt, protein bars, and protein shakes are among the most popular choices, though protein fortification in snacks continues to expand. High-protein cookies, snack cakes, and snackable breakfast cereals illustrate the evolution of the protein snack category.
Fiber is another priority nutrient for many consumers. Fiber is known to consumers as an ingredient that helps them feel fuller for longer—an especially important attribute in a snack. It’s also associated with supporting digestive health, which continues to be one of today’s top health concerns.
Grain-based snacks like cereal bars, granola bars, and snackable cereals have a particular advantage in delivering fiber. In addition, crackers and chips formulated with whole grains can be important sources of fiber in the diet. Nut and seed snacks, as well as fruit snacks, are also popular choices.
Consumers are also interested in boosting their intake of essential vitamins and minerals to support their overall health. While some snacks are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals like trail mixes, nut and seed snacks, and fruit snacks, fortification is a way to achieve higher levels.
Fortified nutrition bars, for example, are popular snacks that often provide vitamins and minerals at 20% DV or higher to make a “high” or “excellent source” claim. However, any snack can be fortified with a custom nutrient premix to meet this need, from extruded puffs to ready-to-drink beverages.
While the snack food category as a whole continues to experience rapid growth, certain snack segments are worth watching closely. These are segments that have embraced innovative ingredients, flavors, and formats while keeping nutrition at the forefront.
Brands like Epic helped take jerky to new heights by focusing on interesting ingredients. Now, plant-based jerky is following suit. We’re seeing plant-based jerky made from wheat (Upton’s Naturals’ Jerky Bites), jackfruit (Snack Jack Plant-Based Jerky), mushrooms (Savory Wild Portabella Jerky), and more recently mung bean and pea protein (Beyond Meat Plant-Based Jerky).
Another snack poised for growth is the 100% cheese snack. Since this is simply cheese that has been cut or shaped into a snackable size and then baked, it offers all the benefits of cheese, including protein and calcium. Examples include Air Cheese Crunchy Cheese Bites by Elma Farms and Just the Cheese Baked Cheese Bars and Mini Crisps. 100% cheese snacks are also keto-friendly.
Cereal sales surged during the pandemic as more consumers ate breakfast at home. Many also discovered cereal was great for snacking—a habit that seems to be sticking. Cereal, either in milk or right out of the bag, makes an appealing better-for-you snack due to its high fiber, vitamin, and mineral content and pleasantly sweet taste. Some, like Wonderworks Keto-Friendly Cereal, also offer high protein. Adding Crunchie Milk Protein Bites is a way to boost both protein and crunch.
Whether sweet or savory, the better-for-you snack consumers are looking for snacks that offer that moment of indulgence through exciting flavor, texture, or format—along with some added nutritional benefits. This balanced approach to snacking is a trend that we expect will continue to grow as more consumers seek out small, sustainable ways to live a healthier lifestyle.