10 key snack trends to watch

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Snacks Innova market insights Healthy snacks Protein Veganism Clean label Unilever

There is no doubt that healthy snacking is trending, with emphasis on clean label, protein and vegan launches. According to Innova Market Insights, as snacks become healthier, more wholesome and satisfying, they are increasingly fulfilling the role of mini meals.

The market researcher’s data on launches between 2013 and 2017 showed there was a 17% increase in the growth of snacks with a health claim and a 22% rise in those with a ‘nutritious’ claim.

Protein is still popular – launches with a protein claim grew at a 31% CAGR during the period – with Snack Nuts & Seeds and Meat Snacks leading the subcategories last year.

A rising interest in veganism has also driven activity, with plant-based ingredients snacks growing at a 44% CAGR for the period.

According to Innova, the 10 key snack trends to watch are:

From snacks to mini meals

Packed with protein and wholesome ingredients, snacks increasingly fulfil the role of mini meals. They provide convenience and sustenance for time-pressured consumers.

Thai Green Curry_V2

Aligned to this trend, Unilever has revolutionized lunchtimes with Prep Co, which offers UK consumers a fuss-free healthy snack to enjoy ‘al desko’ (at the desk).

Made from natural ingredients, each pot also contains enough vegetables to fulfil one of the recommended ‘five a day’ and provides a source of fibre and protein, and is low in saturated fat.

Prep Co. taps into the trend for world food flavours with globally inspired recipes, including Mediterranean Couscous, Thai Green Curry, Indian Spiced Lentils and Mexican Chilli Rice.

Available from selected retailers around the UK at a RRP of £1.99.

Lighter enjoyment

As consumers look to balance enjoyment with health, a growing number of snacks carry 'sugar free', 'low sugar' or 'no added sugar' claims. In this context, fruit and dried fruit act as natural sweeteners.

Apple chips

ThreeWorks Apple Chips Snacky Pak contain apple chips with ridges to taste and crunch like potato chips with flavors engineered just for kids.

Hasbro created the non-GMO verified snacks in partnership with Transformers, Bananarama and My Little Pony.

They are made with only one or two ingredients, with no added sugars or artificial colors and flavors, are fat-, gluten-, nut- and peanut-free, and not fried. The snacks are also a good source of fiber and Kosher certified.

Available in Canada and US.

Savory soars

Snacks that include savory ingredients such as meat, cheese, herbs and spices invigorate the snacking landscape. The combination of sweet and savory makes for interesting new snacks.


DNX Foods’s high protein Peri-Peri Chicken bar certainly hits the spot here.

Traditional peri peri is an intense season that originates from Portugal, combining African Bird’s Eye chillies with ingredients such as onions, lemon, oil and red bell peppers.

The Whole30-Approved 1.5oz protein bars combine 13g of protein – from free-range chickens that are never given antibiotics or added hormones – with organic vegetables and are Paleo and Keto compliant.

The bars are shelf-stable for a year, are non-GMO, free of gluten-, soy-, MSG and dairy, and do not contain added sugar.

DNX protein bars come in five variants, available online and through Amazon and in selected retail stores across the US at a RRP of $2.99. 

Mindful snacking

As more snacks feature natural, no additives/preservatives, organic and GMO free claims, they allow the mindful consumer to snack indulgently, but also ‘guilt-free.’

Raw Snacks

Goji Cacao Protein Bar is Danish firm Raw Snacks’ answer to a chocolate bar. The sharp bitterness of raw cacao comes to the fore with the sweet addition of dates and goji berries to complete the balance.

Raw Snacks products are 100% organic and produced with Raw Food principles with organic ingredients sourced from Aarhus in Denmark. As such, they are gluten-, lactose- and soy free, contain no sweeteners, additives, E-numbers or preservatives, and are vegetarian, vegan and paleo friendly.

The products are also diabetic-friendly, although several of the variants may contain some carbohydrates. Raw Snacks products are to be found all over Denmark and abroad.

Artisan style

From rustic-looking chips based on a traditional recipe to hand-popped corn made in small batches, artisan and craft products seem to evoke quality and are gaining ground in the snacks category.

Boulder 1

Simple ingredient snack brand, Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods, has expanded its line of Rice Bran Oil Kettle Cooked Potato Chips with two new flavors. Buffalo Ranch and Sweet Chipotle join the existing rice bran oil varieties, Roasted Jalapeno and Pink Himalayan Salt.

Boulder Canyon kettle-cooks its chips in 100% rice bran oil to offer consumers a snack balanced with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The oil is extracted from the outer layer of brown rice and imparts a milder finish.

Available in grocery, natural food, club and mass merchandise retailers across the US with a RRP of $3.49 per 5.25oz package.

Portable packaging

Easy to use snack packs - whether reclosable, portable or pre-portioned - provide portion guidance and answer to the buy lifestyles of the modern on-the-go consumers.


Tillamook Country Smoker’s Gourmet Style Snack Sticks are packed in grab-and-go 12oz packs.

According to the company, sticks in a bag continue to be a growing segment within the meat snack category, and with consumers moving towards clean labels and simple ingredients, Tillamook Country Smoker wanted to introduce a traditional snack in a healthier and better-for-you way.

The dry-styled beef and pork clean-label snacks will begin rolling out in US retail in early in Q1 2019.

Coconut in the spotlight

With coconut receiving a great deal of attention for its perceived health benefits, it is a rising star among snacks. Chunks, flakes, cream, frozen or freeze-dried - the potential applications of coconut are endless.


Snack producer Forest Feast has honored the coconut in its Forest Feast Fruit Ball range, which includes Mango & Coconut and Milk Chocolate, Mango & Coconut.

Each flavor is available in 100g sharing bags retailing at £3 ($3.92), while the Milk Chocolate, Coconut & Mango and Mango & Coconut variants also come in 30g individual bags, retailing at £1.25.

The company’s new packaging now features a white background with fruit and tropical foliage on its sharing bags, as well as a new black logo and the slogan “Discover. Make. Eat.”

A new mascot, Livingstone the elephant, will become the brand’s ‘visual identity.’

Growing role for nuts

Nuts and seeds already hold great appeal in snacks, but now manufacturers are experimenting with smoky, spicy and caramelized nut variations that offer limitless potential.


Aligned with this trend, Fisher has launched its newest snack innovation, Fisher Oven Roasted Never Fried snack nuts, available in six variants, including Deluxe Mixed Nuts, Mixed Nuts with Peanuts, Peanuts, Almond & Cashew Blend, Almonds and Cashews.

Aimed at health-minded snackers, the nuts are made with only two ingredients – nuts and sea salt – and contains no added oils. The entire portfolio is also non-GMO Project Verified and contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

Fisher Oven Roasted Never Fried nuts are available at selected US retailers nationwide from April. Prices vary from $2.99 for 12oz to $7.99 for 8.75oz, depending on the nuts.


Snacks featuring premium flavors like coffee, beer or wine contribute to more sophisticated treats. The adult snacking market is thriving.

Patatas Torres

What could be more adult than sparkling wine potato chips?

Spanish company Patatas Torres has released potato chips flavored with a fusion of sparkling wine, described as having “a fruity flavor with a slight bubbling effect.”

The company lists the ingredients as potatoes, sunflower oil, sparkling wine flavoring (6%), popping candy (1%), and flavor enhancer. Patatas Torres is also any is known for its creative flavors and has produced chip flavoured like caviar, ham, and olive oil, among others.

Popped and puff

Snack manufacturing goes beyond the conventional methods of baking or deep-frying: popped and puffed are emerging.

Safe + Fair Food

The Safe + Fair Food Company’s new line of Popcorn Quinoa Chips fits neatly into this category.

The chips are not fried and are free from artificial ingredients, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and trans fats. They are also free from five of the top eight allergens and are made with clean ingredients. Available in three flavors – Olive Oil & Sea Salt, Sweet & Salty Kettle and Sweet Sriracha – the line is Certified Gluten-Free, Non GMO Project Verified, Kosher, cholesterol-free and vegetarian.

Safe + Fair donates 3% of proceeds to the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University to help develop cures for people with food allergies.

Available online from the company, the Popcorn Quinoa Chips can be shipped across the US, in four-ounce bags for $2.99 or as a bundle with each flavor for $7.99.

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