Sebastian Emig, director-general of the ESA, said continued strength in the market had stimulated a ‘business as usual’ approach.
“We have good growth in comparison to other food sectors – we haven’t been very effected by the unfortunate economic conditions… Overall this has led to a sort of, what I would say, traditional, conservative approach,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“Besides the special occasion of the World Cup, we didn’t see such a big plethora of new product development. We’ve seen a couple of new developments, like new shapes in the extruded and pellet sector and some new products that depend on new production techniques like puffed products… But I would say, in general, it’s been a strong upwards and sidewards trend,” he said.
Snack innovation that had taken place, he said, was “just testing the waters left and right”.
Raw material woes but NPD to come
Emig said that while snack makers had seen strong business trends, one challenge during 2014 had been raw material conditions, such as potato, nut and oil. Potato, for example, had experienced a bad harvest and was the biggest commodity for snack makers, he said.
“That has slightly affected [manufacturers] bringing products to the market but I think they’ve got a lot in their drawers. As the climate develops and if the occasions and environment fall on fruitful conditions, we might see a little bit more innovation.”
Snack makers would likely innovate with different raw materials, he said, although ancient grain snacks in Europe would remain a “small niche”. In addition, there would be more meat being used in the category, he said. “We might see merging of traditional snacks like potatoes with meat snacks, potentially. It depends obviously on food safety and how you keep the moisture out.”
Production techniques to incorporate flavors in alternative ways could also emerge, he said, such as adding flavors to the oil at the very end of processing; using infused oils.
One-stop-shop for sweet and savory
Emig said there would also be more packaging developments to create all-in-one sweet and savory products for busy consumers - snack packs with two separate compartments for savory and sweet, for example.
“It’s about convenience so consumers don’t have to walk down the sweets aisle then the savory – you have the product in one spot,” he said.
Emig previously told this site the biggest 2014 battle for European snack makers had been FIC labeling laws – you can read more HERE.