Snacks Are Consumers' Top Choice for Flavor Exploration
Retail snacks of all types experienced a boost during the COVID lockdown as families reached for snacks for comfort, indulgence, and even meal replacement. While tried-and-true flavors have undoubtedly done well, novel flavors (especially global flavors) are gaining a following as many consumers seek taste adventure in the absence of travel and restaurant dining.
New research shows the product category consumers are most likely to try a new flavor in is snacks (at 62%), ahead of desserts and condiments.1 This is especially true for younger consumers. While only 20% of Boomers agree snacking allows them to try new/global flavors, this jumps to 42% for Gen X consumers and 56% for Millennials and Gen Z consumers.2 Gen Z’s interest in snacks with authentic global flavors has doubled from 20% in 2019 to 40% in 2020.3
When deciding on snack purchases, snacks made with new, interesting flavors are very important to 43% of consumers, while 35% of consumers consider snacks made with global flavors to be very important.4 Among snacking categories (which includes salty, sweet, dairy, fresh, frozen, beverages, and bars), this is particularly important for bars and frozen snacks.5
Flavors Inspirations for Snacks
To keep consumers engaged, snack manufacturers can tap into this drive to try new snack flavors by considering these emerging flavor trends for inspiration:
Familiar with a Twist
For consumers who love snacks with a touch of honey, manuka honey offers a familiar flavor with a twist. The rarity of manuka honey (which requires the blossoms of New Zealand’s manuka trees), along with its unique flavor and potential health benefits makes manuka honey an intriguing option. For a salty or sweet and salty snack, Himalayan pink salt is a flavor that holds appeal, especially for foodies interested in exploring subtle flavor differences in nature’s ingredients.
Pushing the limits of hot and spicy has become a favorite pastime for many consumers, especially in salty snacks like chips. Chipotle chile flavor may be best known in Mexican adobo sauce, where it delivers an intense smoky heat that’s complemented by garlic, onion, and oregano. For a taste of Thai, sweet chili sauce is a top choice, offering chile pepper flavor combined with sweet and tangy notes. A versatile green pepper that's trending in snacks from jerky to ice cream is Hatch chile, grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico.