US consumers are snacking more frequently, with more than 50% of eating occasions now snacks, according to the Hartman Group. IRI data also indicated that America has become a ‘serial’ snacking nation, with one in five grazing on snacks throughout the day instead of eating three square meals.
Rod Troni, chief marketing officer at Snyder’s-Lance, said that shift in consumer eating habits meant manufacturers needed to work on positioning snacks as part of a holistic meal-filler.
“We have to give consumers better-for-you alternatives that they can put together with a dip, use as a carrier, or snack on the run – something that they feel can be snack solutions for them to bridge between meals,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com at Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.
“I believe that given the evolution in America, and with more and more meals being snacks, the concept of snack solutions is going to be gigantic."
Meal solutions had taken off significantly over the past few years, he said, and snacks would follow suit.
“Think about meal solutions – you put together a meal, perhaps with chicken, vegetables and potatoes. You can go to a supermarket and there is co-branding and displays suggesting all sorts of meal solutions. I think that will happen more and more in snacks.”
Asked if Snyder’s-Lance had considered co-branding partnerships, Troni said it was something the company would explore as well as look in-house at opportunities within Snyder’s-Lance’s own portfolio.
Balancing more benefits
The most important part of any product development, he said, was balancing convenience, value, taste and health.
“Consumers are looking for companies that hit the sweet spot between these four, and they vary in degree in different products. But if you have SKUs for any of those four, consumers will reward you... That is the real future.”
Troni said consumers had become more sophisticated and were able to balance different benefits better than in the past.
Currently, better-for-you products made up around one-quarter of Synder’s-Lance’s portfolio, Troni said, with ‘better than’ snacks (those healthier than other snacks) representing 80% and indulgence 20%.
However, he said Snyder’s wanted to strengthen better-for-you, driving the segment up to one-third of the overall portfolio within the next five years.
The company would predominantly do that across its three major brands – Lance Crackers, Cape Cod and Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels, he said. Its 40% reduced-fat Cape Cod chips and popcorn lines had performed well, he said, as well as the Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels and the company would continue in this vein. “It’s about having alternatives for consumers to still snack with great flavors but feel less guilt. It’s all about less guilt.”
“We have seen with our consumer research that they are increasingly more conscious about what they put in their mouth… We’ve got to give consumers choices that fit their lifestyles."