Thankfully, functional ingredients are well placed to help food producers fulfil these consumer demands.
According to the Mondelez State of Snacking 2020 report, nine in 10 adults worldwide say they are snacking more or the same during the pandemic than they were before. Digging deeper, millennials and those working from home are especially likely to say they prefer snacks over meals.
Comfort was, unsurprisingly, seen as the number one driver behind this global love of snacking. As uncertainty continues into 2021, it is likely these raised consumption levels across both the snacks and baked goods categories will remain a while longer as consumers continue look to boost their mood and manage boredom with treats.
Balancing health and energy levels
However, the devastation wrought by the pandemic has brought health very much to the front of mind and this will be the key trend in 2021.
People are increasingly adopting a long-term approach to their health. FMCG Gurus’ latest snacking survey shows that consumers recognise that current diets and lifestyles are something that could lead to problems later in life, with 47% of global consumers now regularly researching ingredients that can boost their health.
The survey also found 49% of European respondents are looking for ways to boost their energy levels. With this in mind, bakery and snack products that help consumers to balance their health and energy level requirements will prove popular in the coming year.
Take Nestlé Fitness Granola, for example. It is a source of fibre, contains iron and is said to contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. It contains isomaltulose as well as sugar, so it provides carbohydrate energy in a slower, steadier way, thanks to the low-glycaemic profile of isomaltulose. The product is also free from artificial flavours and colours.
The concern for longer-term health is also influencing snacks for children, with 75% of parents globally saying it is ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important for children’s products to have better nutrition.
Other important criteria for UK parents when buying snacks for their children is the promotion of digestive health (76%), as well as snacks that keep a child feeling fuller for longer (69%) and plant-based snacks (52%).
With health such a focus for old and young consumers alike, manufacturers will have to make it easier for shoppers to be able to swap to healthier snacks by using transparent communication, labelling and/or claims.
Growing importance of labels
New research from FMCG Gurus on behalf of Beneo shows there is an overriding demand for healthy ingredients and label transparency following the pandemic: 60% of consumers are now being more attentive to the impact that their food and drink has on the environment.
Another report by Health Focus International into the impact of COVID-19 on consumer purchasing patterns found consumers are also willing to pay more foods that are both healthier AND better for the environment. The sourcing, processing, delivery and social impacts of groceries are now significant to how consumers define healthy .
Although there has been a shift towards claims that promote transparent labelling and sustainable sourcing in the bakery and snacking categories already, this trend will continue to gather pace, offering many opportunities for manufacturers to tap into these growing areas of interest through product development and on pack communication.
We don’t know if 2021 will return to some semblance of normality as the year progresses but one thing is for sure, consumer purchasing choices have shifted for the foreseeable future.
As they seek comfort, healthy indulgence and transparency from their snacks and baked goods, there will be pressure on producers to keep developing and reformulating products that meet these needs.
Creating new products that address all these consumer demands is no mean feat but it can be done by using the right ingredients. Those manufacturers that do so successfully will reap the sales rewards in 2021 and beyond.