COVID-19 has altered many consumer shopping and eating patterns, but demand for snacks remains strong, with more consumers snacking at home and throughout the day. A NPD Group survey reports an 8% increase in snack consumption during the pandemic, as consumers look for added convenience and comfort in challenging times.
Long before the outbreak, consumers were striving to make more responsible snack decisions, prioritising products that offer nutritional benefits.
According to data from IRI, more than half of consumers want snacks that are packed with vitamins and minerals, while 47% want snack products that are low in sugar.
The pandemic has certainly put a renewed focus on healthy eating.
A 2020 survey from the International Food Information Council found that six in 10 consumers have increased the emphasis they place on their overall health when making consumption decisions in the past year. More than half say healthfulness matters more to them now than it has in the last decade.
To meet consumer demand for healthier snack options, producers are seeking out ingredients that can support nutritional claims while also delivering added texture and flavour to enhance consumer appeal.
Almonds offer just that, combining proven nutritional benefits with taste and texture, including the satisfying ‘crunch factor’ that consumers crave in a snack.
They also complement other ingredients like dried fruits, chocolate and yogurt pieces, adding diversity and flavour to mixes and bars.
A growing number of consumers are opting to follow specialty diets in the interest of living a healthier, cleaner lifestyle. A big swing, in particular, is towards a plant-based diet, with many making the switch to fully plant-based, vegetarian or vegan lifestyles.
Increased protein consumption is also becoming more synonymous with a healthy diet, often associated with increased energy. Today, protein claims are expanding beyond the functional food category and into more indulgent offerings, like cookies and chocolate.
IRI data shows that launches with a protein claims are growing at 9% each year, with several categories seeing double-digit sales growth, including snacks at 11%.4.
Again, almonds tick the boxes here, being the tree nut highest in six essential nutrients, including protein and fibre and helping product developers tap into the plant-based demand.
Versatile ingredients like almond butter and almond protein powder, too, are a simple way to add a higher protein content to applications ranging from nutrition bars to baked goods.
Almonds also benefit from consumer recognition as a superfood. In addition to protein and fibre, they are a rich source of calcium and potassium, and have a healthy fat profile with low saturated fat, no cholesterol, and plenty of omega-9 fatty acids.
Almonds remain the leading nut used in global snack product introductions, according to the latest Global New Products Report from Innova Market Insights.