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Meeting the Demand for Healthy Snacks

The growing demand for healthy snacks is inspiring innovation throughout the snack foods category. Learn which healthy snacks are trending and why—plus inside tips on how manufacturers can improve the health appeal of their snack foods.

Understanding the Demand for Healthy Snacks

Grand View Research estimates the global healthy snacks market will reach nearly $33 billion by 2025 (5.2 percent CAGR 2019-2025). The healthy snacks market includes products such as bars, nut and seed snacks, dried fruit snacks, trail mixes, savory snacks, and meat snacks. 

A number of interrelated factors are driving growth in healthy snacks, including:

  • Interest in health benefits from food
  • A desire for weight management solutions 
  • The perception that healthy snacks provide satiety
  • Healthy eating lifestyle promoted by celebrities, athletes, and bloggers
  • Healthy eating lifestyle as personal branding and virtue signaling
  • Rise in disposable incomes in many countries
  • Increase in the number of working professionals 

Key Features of a Healthy Snack

Certain key elements define a healthy snack. A healthy snack is nutrient-dense—featuring protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, or a combination of these. It has low or no added sugars and contains a sensible number of calories. It's a bonus if the healthy snack includes a clean label and functional nutrition, such as added omega-3s or probiotics. Of course, a successful healthy snack also tastes delicious!

What’s Trending in the Healthy Snack Segment

Snack food manufacturers have gone above and beyond in responding to consumers’ desires for healthy snack options. The healthy snacks most popular today are fun and innovative, with appealing ingredients that impart exciting tastes and textures.

Veggin’ Out

Veggie chips have taken root in the snack food category. Root vegetables are trending big, with a number of brands selling chips made from beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Brilliant colors and a touch of sweetness are characteristic of these products. Lotus root chips are an exciting addition to this lineup.

Veggies are beloved for their vitamins, phytonutrients, and fiber. Some veggie chips are even being sold in the produce section—a reminder to consumers that they are indeed vegetables. Brassicas are also expanding in snack foods, with kale, cauliflower, and Brussel sprout powders being added to grain-based chips, crackers, and puffs. 

healthy snacks

The Bean Scene

New bean snacks are sprouting up everywhere. The bean snacks in the market today are made from a wide variety of beans, including black, white, fava, pinto, and mung beans, as well as chickpeas, peas, and lentils. Their assortment of earthy colors and savory flavors makes them easy to choose over potato chips.

Beans are highly adaptable to traditional snack food processes. Bean snacks are available as chips, puffs, curls, and straws, as well as roasted and seasoned like soy nuts. Beans check the boxes for both protein and fiber, though it’s their position as a sustainable protein source that has kept them in the spotlight.

Raising the Bar

The nutrition bar segment is the home of customized nutrition. If there isn’t already a bar for everyone, there will be soon. There are protein bars, fiber bars, multivitamin-mineral bars, and even keto-friendly fat bars fortified with MCTs. Any combination of these nutrients can be added to a bar via a custom nutrient premix. A custom nutrient premix can even be added to veggie and bean chips to achieve higher nutrient levels than would occur naturally.

Functional nutrition is a particular strength of nutrition bars. Trending examples include post-workout bars with added collagen, gut health bars containing probiotics and prebiotics, and brain health bars with omega-3s, MCTs, and choline. Functional ingredients can also be included in a custom nutrient premix. Fortified cookies, snack cakes, and brownies are expanding the formats available for functional nutrition.


Shifting Toward Healthier Snacks

Balance continues to be an essential feature of modern-day snacking. Healthy nutrition in a snack is important, but it needs to be balanced with the snack food fundamentals—namely, convenience and enjoyable eating experience. 

Get in on the healthy snacks trend by adding the most in-demand essential and functional nutrients to your snack products. Want to learn more? Click here for solutions that will help you meet the ever-growing demand for healthy, on-the-go snack options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Healthy snacking cheese is cheese in a convenient, portable format, available in a small serving size, that delivers nutritional or even functional benefits. Healthy snacking cheeses range from traditional string cheese that comes individually wrapped to next-gen cheese snacks like baked or dried 100% cheese bars, puffs, and crisps. 

While all cheese is known for the nutritional benefits of protein and calcium, some newer snacking cheeses in the market (“plus” cheeses) also offer extra nutrients like vitamins A and B12 or functional ingredients like probiotics. In addition, some healthy snacking cheeses come in exciting sweet or savory flavors, while others are paired with nuts, dried fruits, meats, and crackers in combo packs.

Healthy snacking for pregnancy encompasses the right nutrients to support mother and baby, along with convenient formats and enjoyable flavors. The key nutrients at this life stage are folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, protein, choline, and iodine. Fortified prenatal shakes and bars are a convenient way to make sure of getting enough of these specific nutrients.

Some fortified snacks formulated for pregnant women also contain bioactives that have special roles in immunity, growth, and development. Since pregnancy can be a stressful time, it’s important that prenatal snacks come in delicious and satisfying flavors. However, due to the effects of morning sickness, mild flavors may be appreciated, including flavors associated with calming the stomach like ginger, peppermint, and lemon.

Protein-fortified bars, bites, cookies, and brownies are all good protein snacks. Protein snacking is growing more and more popular, appealing to people on many fronts. Protein snacks are a healthy way to tide you over until mealtime; they provide satiety to help with weight management, and they support muscle recovery after a workout. The sweeter protein snacks like protein cookies and brownies also offer permissible indulgence.

Healthy snacks to eat at night are foods that are convenient, nutritious, and keep you full through the night. Snacks that contain protein or fiber are especially effective at providing satiety. Examples of healthy nighttime snacks are protein bars and bites, yogurts, and snacking cereals with added fiber or protein.

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