"In the past year we have heard a lot about high-protein insect snacks; the revolutionary oxymora of sweet-savory snack flavors (‘swavory’); and ancient but rediscovered raw materials such as quinoa and kale. So what will 2016 bring for the European savoury snacks industry?
In general we will see the continued trend of the so-called ‘snackification’ of everything.
An increasing number of consumers divide their day into more than the traditional three eating occasions, and there is much more opportunity for the sector to present them with tasty and nutritious products. Being at the forefront of food innovation, our industry will harness this societal development by offering products for a quick energy boost in a portable and practical format.
With eating occasions in a state of flux, consumers are more demanding in their expectations for snacking, which are increasingly related to an occasion or event.
In the morning they want a wake-up protein kick that fuels them through their way to work and the first working hours; later during the day when they might not be able to enjoy a traditional lunch they want a choice of exciting and daring intermediate options to nibble on; after work they expect to be able to choose from a universe of snacking formats that fit seamlessly into their evening program, be it after physical exercise, a night out with friends or cocooning at home.
How will our industry cope with these increasingly varied demands and what can we offer in the coming year?
For snacks, ‘low fat’ has historically and often been associated with ‘low taste’, and this is one of the reasons better-for-you snacks are likely to grow in the future, and our industry will look into ways to build on the achievements made in terms of food reformulation to further continue improving the nutritional composition of our products. And we have seen that the messaging around it will need to be discrete rather than overt, clever rather than in-your-face.
Mistrust for long ingredient lists
The future for savory snacks is likely to revolve around fewer ingredients and more natural flavors and colors, with consumers seemingly mistrusting long ingredients lists.
An increasing part of the older population remain avid snackers, and manufacturers will continue to adapt their snacks to older age groups, putting portion control, ‘stealth reduction’ and natural ingredients at the forefront of innovation strategies.
So far, stealth reduction - the reformulation of products by incorporating healthier ingredients that naturally have lower salt or fat content - appears to be faring well. Nuts, meat snacks and popcorn are benefiting from the trend as they are perceived as naturally healthy, naturally low in fat or naturally high in protein.
Popped and baked snacks
Alternative production techniques, such as popping or baking are increasingly being explored by savory snack manufacturers to tap growing consumer demand for such products.
With growing concern over obesity, portion control will gain further traction and will subsequently drive demand for smaller, more convenient packaging.
Finally, another trend that will see a steep increase is the personalisation of snacks to provide an individual and unique sensory experience – be it event-related, such as for the upcoming European soccer championship; or flavor-related when customers can propose ‘their’ flavor to be produced for the market."