With nervousness heightened by a global pandemic, many consumers are choosing to add snack breaks to their day. In fact, the 2021 Global Consumer Snacking Trends Study by Mondelez International shows that over the past 12 months, 64% of consumers replaced a meal with a snack.
If this trend continues, formulators will need to be aligned with the types of treats customers want: snacks that are both satisfying and lean into other current trends.
“Today, consumers are largely focusing on the environmental impact and functional nutrition when it comes to choosing a snack,” said Paula Bentley, UK sales manager at Chaucer Foods.
“Many natural ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables, fit in with the new consumer trends we’ve seen shape the industry. By incorporating these recognisable ingredients, you can help your customers feel secure in their snack purchasing decisions — and satisfied to eat them.”
Rising global environmental concerns have led to growing interest in sustainable food choices.
“In order to improve the environment through their food choices, consumers are increasingly demanding evidence of sustainable practices across the supply chain,” said Bentley, noting that Mondelez’s research shows that 85% of consumers would buy – or would like to buy – snacks from a company working to offset their environmental impact.
Additionally, a survey from Food & Beverage Insider revealed 55% of consumers more likely to purchase a packaged food item if it includes a sustainability claim.
“As a formulator, you can innovate with more sustainable ingredients to steer toward these interests, such as plant-based products,” added Bentley.
A 2022 study by Down to Earth has confirmed that veggie diets are more sustainable than their non-veggie counterpart, leading to:
- Fewer greenhouse gas emissions (decreases 49.6%)
- Less energy for food production (decreases 29.6%)
- Smaller environmental footprints (decreases 41.5%)
“The inclusion of more sustainable, plant-based ingredients, like fruits and vegetables, within your snack options leads to a guilt-free feeling,” said Bentley.
“Consumers will not only appreciate the sustainable option for their personal consumption but will view the brand as a more sustainable and responsible choice, likely earning customer loyalty.”
While it began gaining consumer interest several years ago, the pandemic has spiralled the interest in functional, immune-boosting snacks.
“To take in the right nutrients to help fight off illness, consumers began seeking immune-boosting foods and beverages, or ‘food as medicine’,” said Bentley, highlighting research by Kerry that revealed 58% of global consumers chose immune system support as the most important benefit of healthy eating.
“On top of this, two-thirds of consumers said they looked for food and beverage products that improved their body’s natural defence and immune system.
“This creates a tremendous opportunity for brands able to focus on addressing the functional benefits of their products. Consider adding naturally occurring, immune-boosting fruits and vegetables, like berries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, ginger and spinach, among others.”
Freeze-drying ingredients appeal to both health-driven and environmentally-conscious consumers, enabling them to enjoy a tasty snack without sacrificing standards.
“By freeze-drying an immune-boosting ingredient, we extend the shelf life of the offering and help reduce overall food waste,” added Bentley.
“Whether they want Vitamin C from citrus, berries, and peppers, or Vitamin A from carrots, squash and kale, providing your customers with snacks full of the healthy options they crave will keep them as a customer for life.”
To sum up, she said snack producers must stay ahead of the game to cater for people who want their snacks to both taste good and be good for their health and that of the planet.
“Formulators must be aware of the ingredients best fitting these preferences. While many ingredients could work, by partnering with a trustworthy and ethical ingredients producer, formulators can add a boost of confidence into their final product.
“When the ingredients supplier is built around providing the best ingredients possible, formulators can trust that they are innovating premium, healthy and sustainable offerings for their consumers – and people can trust in the brands they buy.”