Jared Koerten, senior food analyst at Euromonitor International, said the gluten-free snacking boom was on its way out but organic could gain share.
“Gluten-free is getting to the saturation point – even products that don’t do anything special to become gluten-free (they’re just naturally gluten-free) are putting it on labels. It got really big, but I don’t know how much bigger it can get because it’s basically maxed out at this point. I don’t see a lot of additional room for growth,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com at Sweets & Snacks Expo 2015.
However, he said a lot of smaller and specialist snack makers were starting to claim organic on-pack - something that could take off.
“Organic has gotten big in things like produce and milk but in some of the packaged snacks areas, organic hasn’t really made a big splash. But, the continued growth of retailers like Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market means you’re just going to see more interest in organic products,” he said.
Other retailers have also shown increased focus in organic – Target recently pledged to double its Made to Matter natural and organic collection as part of a wider food reinvention plan and Kroger said its Simple Truth natural and organics brand continued to be in significant growth, totting up $1.2bn in 2014.
Confidence in organic
Compared to claims like ‘all-natural’, Koerten said consumers had more confidence in organic because it was regulated.
“It’s kind of that seal of approval from government. With a lot of these other things, like ‘all-natural’, what does that exactly mean?”
Parents in particular, he said, would drive the move towards organic in the future.
“Parents want to give their kids healthier snacks, even if it is a candy bar – it’s a little better if it’s made with organic ingredients. This way of thinking is kind of along the same line as gluten-free or non-GMO products.”
Around 84% of Americans buy organic, according to a Consumer Reports survey published last year. Data from the Organic Trade Association also indicates sales of organic food in the US have grown significantly in the past 18 years - up from $3.6bn in 2007 to $39bn in 2014.
Organic or non-GMO?
Koerten said from a business stand-point organic status was easier to achieve than some other product specifications, like non-GMO.
“I know that speaking to some manufacturers: they’re working towards non-GMO certifications but that’s going to take some time. However, organic is done; it’s already established, so it’s a little bit easier.”
However, he said non-GMO continued to be a big trend in snacks and was shifting into the mainstream market thanks to commitments from the likes of Chipotle.
“Non-GMO is really hitting it big. Gluten-free has been around for a while but now a lot of [manufacturers] are saying not only ‘gluten-free’ but also ‘non-GMO’ and I think three or four years ago this movement existed, but it was small and not a lot of people knew about it.”