More consumers than ever before are studying the labels of products to see what they are eating and drinking.
Worldwide, 64% of consumers read the labels on food packages, while one in three are said to have increased their research on ingredients over the past year, according to HealthFocus International Global Trend Study 2018.
BENEO’s Clean Label Consumer research 2018 also shows that 51% of UK consumers now look at the ingredients list, compared to 43% looking at nutritional information and 32% at health and nutritional claims.
According to Nielsen, health is not surprisingly one of the main trends currently driving innovation in the snacking category, with 45% of consumers looking for healthy snacks and 41% wanting snacks that contain less sugar.
Interestingly, 40% also expect to pay a premium for healthy/functional snacks, compared to their non-healthy alternatives.
With healthy snacking such a focus for 2019, producers are looking to functional ingredients to create healthier profile snacks.
Work done by the BENEO-Technology Centre, for example, has shown that it is possible to create popcorn alternatives using a sugar replacer called Isomalt, obtained from sugar beet.
It reduces the 10-20% sugar traditionally found in sugar sweetened popcorn products to only 1%.
Isomalt is heat stable, ensuring that microwaveable popcorn is not scorched during its preparation. It also improves the nutritional profile of popcorn products, as well as its crunch, flavour and appearance.
Beyond the potato
According to Mintel, more than half of UK snackers (52%) perceive snacks made with pulses to be healthier than potato-based ones, while 39% of Brazilians are interested in healthier versions of their favourite snacks.
Even though innovation in the salty snack category continues to be dominated by launches in potato-based snacks, there is growing competition from a range of other ingredients such as corn and vegetable-based snacks (carrots, beets) and grains (quinoa).
However, when it comes to savoury snacking, it seems flavour is still a key driver.
38% of Chinese snackers are encouraged to buy a new salty snack if it offers a unique flavour, 50% of Brazilians agree that unusual or exotic flavours are appealing and 36% of US consumers buy more chips if there are new flavours to try.
Clean label focus
With snack sales soaring around the world, there is an immense opportunity for producers to continue to add healthier alternatives.
In fact, with clean label ingredients lists increasingly a focus, it is no surprise that BENEO is working with even more manufacturers to help them develop Better-For-You snacks.
The good news is that there is a range of functional ingredients available to help create new opportunities within the snacking arena in 2019.