bowl of chips

Exploring New Flavors through Snacks

Research shows consumers are turning to snacks to try out new and interesting flavors. Learn which types of snacks consumers look to for flavor exploration, and discover the top emerging flavors for snack applications.

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.

Chile Pepper

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.

chili peppers


Umami flavors are also expanding their reach. Umami, known as the fifth taste, is a rich, savory taste experienced when the taste receptors come into contact with the amino acid glutamate or ribonucleotides. These compounds are most commonly found in meats, cheeses, and fermented products like soy sauce. Umami flavors that can add depth and cravability to snacks include olive, parmesan, and mushroom flavors.

Fruits and Florals

Exotic fruit and floral flavors showcase especially well in beverages and frozen treats but may also be used in sweet bakery snacks and bars. For some Asian inspiration, manufacturers can try goji berry, a sweet-tart berry from China known for its brilliant color and superfood antioxidants. The Japanese citrus fruit sudachi, an emerging flavor trend in the U.S., also offers a refreshing tartness. For florals, honeysuckle is the flavor to watch as more chefs embrace it as a next-generation elderflower.


Explore the Flavor Possibilities

With so many consumers relying on snacks to discover new and interesting flavors, manufacturers who are willing to explore new flavor possibilities in their products are sure to have an edge over the competition. Get inspired with Glanbia Nutritionals’ extensive portfolio of flavors—from indulgent, fruit, dairy, to savory flavors and more, we have flavors for every type of snack. To learn more about this year’s snacking trends, check out our 2021 Snacking Trends Guide.


1. Mintel, Trending Flavors and Ingredients in Snacks – US – March 2021.
2-5. The Hartman Group, Snacking 2020: Emerging, Evolving and Disrupted, October 2020.

Take our poll

Enter your email on the next step to receive the articles as soon as they go live.

Hello! It looks like you’re using Internet Explorer. Microsoft is phasing out this browser, so we are no longer supporting it and some parts of the page may not look right. To enjoy the full experience, we recommend you use one of these browsers: Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Brave.