What’s new on the shelf: low-sugar treats and low-cal popcorn, plus drink-inspired snacks

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

From stevia-sweetened chocolate covered almonds to 50-calorie servings of popcorn, snacking gets light this holiday season. Pic: Getty Images/TrongNguyen
From stevia-sweetened chocolate covered almonds to 50-calorie servings of popcorn, snacking gets light this holiday season. Pic: Getty Images/TrongNguyen

Related tags New product launches Popcorn Chocolate Snacks sugar alternative Stevia Barbecue flavor trends soda Pepperidge farm

With the holidays approaching, snack brands look for inspiration in seasonal coffee drinks and soda pop, while Lily’s and Smartfood offer options for consumers to indulge without the guilt. Here’s a roundup of what’s new on the shelf as we head into the end of the year.

No added sugar

Lily's Sweets

Lily’s Sweets, one of the leading no-sugar-added chocolate brands, added several snacks to its lineup this autumn.

Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds (RRP $5.49 for a 3.5oz bag) coat caramel bites with chocolate – sweetened with stevia and erythritol, leading to less than 1g of sugar per serving – for a ‘chewy yet smooth’ treat.

Adding some crunch, Lily’s Caramel Popcorn (RRP $5.49 for a 3.5oz bag) comes coated in either dark or milk chocolate.

Lily’s first hit the shelves of Whole Foods in 2012, and the natural retailer will carry these new items starting in January. The brand has “delivered sweet and confectionary options that excited our shoppers and drive category growth,”​ said Jason Krolikowski, who leads the candy and functional snacks purchasing at Whole Foods.

According to Lily’s consumer research, about 80% of US adults say they strive to limit their sugar intake. The brand has doubled its business in 2019, as nearly half of first-time purchases buy the low-sugar products again.

“We know consumers want delicious options with no added sugar, and we are excited to deliver indulgences that we know they will obsess over,”​ said SVP of marketing and innovation Sarah Meis. 

Refreshing the raisin


'Raisin queen' Sun-Maid has changed its approach to its yogurt-covered raisins: now they are Non-GMO Project Verified. The company says it has also improved the look, taste and texture.

New flavors Chocolate & Vanilla and Strawberry & Vanilla offer kids and adults more choices of these gluten-free snacks. They join the existing lineup of Chocolate, Vanilla, and Salted Caramel.

A 6-pack of single-serve boxes runs for an RRP of $3.39, while an 8oz resealable bag goes for $4.29.

“Millennials have a holistic view toward health and we are addressing their needs by developing products that are less processed and have fewer artificial ingredients,”​ said marketing director Chris Dixon. The yogurt-raisin combo offers “a great way to keep your sweet-tooth at bay, but without the guilt.”

One 28g serving (a single-serve box) contains 4.5g of fat with 4g of saturated fat, but benefits include 160mg of potassium and 1g of dietary fiber, plus vitamin C, calcium and iron.

The company teased the coming of additional new flavors in January.

Perfect peanut butter cups?

Perfect Snacks peanut butter cups

Refrigerated snack company Perfect Snacks, scooped by Mondelēz, has expanded beyond snack bars and into the functional candy/treat sphere.

Its new line of refrigerated peanut butter cups – available in milk chocolate, dark chocolate with sea salt, and dark chocolate coconut – pack 7g to 8g of protein per serving. Made with a base of peanut butter, organic and Fair Trade chocolate, the cups use dried whole egg powder and a blend of dried whole food powders (such as kale, flax seed, rose hip, celery, and kelp) to boost the protein and fiber levels.

A 2-cup serving contains 210 calories with 14g of fat and 4.5g of saturated fat – plus 8g of ‘healthy’ monounsaturated fat. The sugar level clocks in at 11g, but the function comes through 7g of protein and 3g of fiber.

A box of eight (with two cups per package) runs for $24 on Perfect Snacks’ website.

BBQ still reigns

Late July korean bbq

Late July has introduced another flavor to its Clásico line of tortilla chips – and it’s one of the year’s trendiest: Korean Barbeque.

Like all of its chips, these are made with organic yellow corn and inspired by culinary tastes. They are also certified kosher, non-GMO and gluten-free.

The Korean Barbeque flavor combines brown sugar, onion and garlic with ginger, chili pepper and a smoky note for a ‘sweet and spicy kick.’

The rest of the lineup includes Jalapeño Lime, Nacho Chipotle, Buffalo Queso, Bacon Habanero, and Sriracha Fresca (RRP $3.49-$3.99 for a 5.5oz bag). Retailers range from Whole Foods to Food Maxx and Save Mart.

Get smart

Get Smart

The low-calorie popcorn brand from Frito-Lay has introduced a 50-calorie option – in ‘sleek’ new packaging that shows off the simplicity of popcorn pieces on the bag.

“We wanted to show consumers that making smart choices doesn’t mean having to sacrifice fun or flavor,”​ said Tracey Williams, senior director of marketing at parent company PepsiCo. “Smart50 extends our brand mission to provide simple and transparent ingredients and is designed to make consumers feel good about their snacking choices.”

A one-cup serving of the White Cheddar flavor packs just 50 calories, with 8g of fat and 3g each of protein and fiber, plus a hint of iron.

The straightforward Sea Salt actually clocks in at just 40 calories per cup, with 7g of fat. This version also contains just three ingredients: popcorn, vegetable oil and salt.

A 6oz bag runs for an RRP of $3.99. 

Soda pop for snacking

Snack Pack

Conagra’s Snack Pack brand has unveiled a new flavor of gels (its Jell-O product) inspired by a cult-favorite soda pop: Fanta.

The 3.25oz cups (RRP $2.79 for 6-pack) are available in either Fanta Orange, Grape or Pineapple. Coca-Cola owns the Fanta brand, and this marks the first co-branded partnership for Snack Pack.

The snack brand also launched new flavors for its pudding line earlier this year – Unicorn Magic and Dragon Treasure.

“Fanta is known for extraordinary flavors, and Orange, Pineapple and Grape are some of our most loved,” ​said Fanta’s brand director Tutul Rahman. “Bringing them to a new category in Snack Pack Gels made all the sense in the world.”

Drink-flavored cookies

Milano Cookies Pepperidge Farm

Pepperidge Farm (owned by Campbell) has also looked to seasonal drinks for new flavor inspiration.

Its line of crispy Milano cookies now features a Caramel Macchiato and Irish Cream. As with all Milano cookies, they are made without artificial ingredients – plus real chocolate, sugar and eggs.

A 7oz bag runs for $3.53 at Target stores across the US.

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