Little snacks, pop ups and ‘naturally’ processed: 2018 was a big year for snacks and 2019 expected to be bigger

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers - particularly millenials - are searching for bolder flavors in their snacks. Pic: ©GettyImages/Erkoc
Consumers - particularly millenials - are searching for bolder flavors in their snacks. Pic: ©GettyImages/Erkoc

Related tags Truly Good Foods Trends brand loyalty Taste on-the-go Transparency plant-based free from Gut health Gluten free products

Consumers are switching loyalties from big brands to smaller, emerging options and flavor remains the most important criteria.

US women-owned firm Truly Good Foods – which specializes in premium snack mixes, freshly roasted nuts and seeds, dried fruit – has released its yearly Snack Food Trends report for 2019.

It notes that flavor is still the most important criteria for brand loyalty and 2019 will see a return to taste, especially for the growing ‘millennial mindset’ audience who are searching for bolder flavors.

Lil’ snacks

Consumers are looking for smaller grab-n-go items, preferably one serving, and manufacturers are responding with 1-2oz snacks that still offer big taste.

The littlest consumers – kids – are also having an impact on snack innovation.

“We’re seeing healthier versions of traditional kid snacks and also some innovative flavors sized down,”​ the company reports writes, noting the children’s market is a huge buying audience that is prime for cleaner, more interesting snack options.

Hometown flavor

Foods influenced by regions across the country are bringing flavor and nostalgia nationwide, according to Truly Good.

From Chesapeake Bay spice to Nashville hot chicken to pimento cheese, these regional flavors are being incorporated into snacks.

“It’s a celebration of America’s culinary heritage and will continue to spread to more local and regional tastes.”

Food chain

While transparency continues to be an important consumer driver, traceability is a key part to this.

Beyond transparent labels, consumers want to see all aspects of the supply chain and the route a product took from farm to table.

Truly Good predicts the industry will hear a lot more about block chain in the coming year.

“Simply put, block chain is a digital ledger and record of all data along the supply chain.”

For the food industry, the promise of block chain provides a way for enabled consumers to trace the source and path of the products they are considering buying.

However, the Charlotte, NC-based company says right now block chain is not much more than hype.

Motherless meat

Meatless options will continue their rise to mainstream in 2019 with eight in 10 millennials regularly consuming meatless alternatives, predicts Truly Food.

In addition to meat free, more companies are expanding other ‘free-from’ foods than ever, including free from gluten, eggs, dairy and allergens.

Dining pop ups

With food becoming less about sustenance and more about the experience, dining times are no longer contained to restaurants.

Today, more retail stores have an adjoining café, movie theaters are featuring full menus and pop-up experiences like The Museum of Ice Cream and popping up, giving consumers more opportunities to have unique food experiences.

Supermarkets are taking up the shift and creating custom food interactions for their customers with, for example, instore wine bars and personalizing experiences with build-your-own trail mix bars.

Gut punch

Medical studies show that a healthy gut is the foundation of overall wellness and consumers are increasingly seeking foods that support their healthy immune systems.

While kombucha continues to become more mainstream, expect to see more snacks that tout a richness of probiotics and flavor.

Natural enhancements

Functional foods are still very much on trend. Think natural remedy ingredients like turmeric for inflammation and disease prevention, enhancement ingredients like collagen for beauty, cannabis (CBD) for relaxation and karkade (hibiscus tea) for stress relief.

“Although processed food have a reputation for being unhealthy, consumers are turning to ‘naturally’ processed and more new products are featuring terms like sprouted, raw, cold-brew, charcoal-filtered, and steam-distilled,”​ says Truly Good

Food swaps

Cauliflower pizza crust, zucchini noodles, broccoli rice and chickpea crisps are all examples of products that were created by a food swap in which an unhealthy component was replaced by a more nutritious ingredient.

Gluten-free, low in carbs and nutritious, cauliflower continues to be the king of the food swap.

For the most part, it can replace starches in many classic foods without too much of a taste change, including pizza crust, rice, crackers and pretzels.

Why so bitter?

Sour was the most recent flavor profile to have its moment in the sun and it looks like it’s finally bitter’s turn.

Truly Good reports that, as the aversion to sugar continues to grow, so bitter will come to the forefront.

It’s been seen in beverages in the past few years and food is where it will see growth in the coming year, with more dark chocolate featured in snacks, and items like green tea and matcha being added to snacks for a caffeine boost.

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