Creating snacks to combat the age-old longevity challenge and other health issues

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

A wider group of consumers are looking to functional snacks. Pic: Gettyimages/syolacan
A wider group of consumers are looking to functional snacks. Pic: Gettyimages/syolacan

Related tags: Glanbia nutritionals, functional snacks, aged care

There has been a notable shift in demand for functional snacks amongst a wider group of consumers, rather than just the elderly and ultra-health-conscious. With post-pandemic healthy eating on the rise, and better nutritional information available to all consumers, the demand for the ultimate functional snack will inevitably increase and can become more than just a point of different for producers.

The pandemic has drastically changed the way consumers view their health and the impact of what they consume. As a result, the functional food market will continue its trajectory growth, estimated to burst through the $260b barrier by 2027.

Glanbia Nutritionals’ recent snacking habit survey – conducted among 2,001 consumers in the UK by Opinion Matters in June 2021 – found that 51% of over 55-year-olds ‘will be more conscious of what they eat to stay healthy’ following the pandemic.

With the global population over the age of 60 reaching 22% by 2020 – double what it was in 2015 – according to the World Health Organisation, that is a very large target group looking for something specific. Ageing brings with it a multitude of health conditions, requiring additional supplements to help address deficiencies or prevent health problems.

Popular with older generations

“Functional and fortified foods have typically been more popular with older generations, particularly products that support heart, bone, eye and brain health,”​ said Tara Bane, marketing manager, EMEA at Glanbia Nutritionals.

“However, ingredients that provide consumers with energy, focus or have calming benefits should all now be considered when producing new snack products, as the functional trend is now popular with all age groups. Research shows that food with calming health properties is especially appealing to Gen Z and Millennials.”

Bane added that younger generations (in particular, 25-34-year-olds) also turn to protein as an important aspect of a healthy snack. In fact, Glanbia’s research found that high protein snacks are sought after by 23% of German Millennials, alongside 18% of those in the UK and 15% in France.

“For brands looking create products in line with this demand, snack bars are an obvious choice, with nearly one in three snack bar launches in 2020 featuring a high protein claim,”​ she added.

List of demands

But while functional snacks should be packed with the nutritional ingredients that will bring something to the party, consumers are also looking for labels to remain as ‘clean’ as possible. Again, Glanbia’s research found that 43% of Baby Boomers prefer foods to be made with simple, real ingredients, while 43% of Gen Z prefer to have something labelled as ‘no preservatives, artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, or trans fats’ . 

“It is also important that functional snacks tap into the ‘conscious indulgence’ trend as increasingly, consumers want to feel good about their snack choices without compromising on flavour,”​ said Bane, noting that 64% of global consumers believe that indulgent snacking is acceptable as part of a healthy diet.

“Chocolate fudge brownie and peanut butter cup are the top two preferred flavours,”​ she added.

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