The rise of the digital snacker

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Today's shopper has an entire world of information at their fingertips to find out the history and benefits of the ingredients used within a product in an instant. Pic: GettyImages
Today's shopper has an entire world of information at their fingertips to find out the history and benefits of the ingredients used within a product in an instant. Pic: GettyImages

Related tags Technology Social media Blue Diamond Growers Almonds Clean label health & wellbeing nostalgia

Technological advancements have opened seemingly infinite possibilities for innovation within the snack and bakery industry. We’re in a new era of food manufacturing with the ability to create a more connected experience for consumers and more efficient development process for brands.

This rapid advancement, however, means that food brands must keep up with the latest tech and have a finger on the market pulse to remain competitive. But tapping into this tech - be it social media to launch a new product or embracing a new platform to share the product’s backstory - is helping product developers stand out through an experiential product.

The social influence

Social media cake baker Getty
Pic: GettyImages

While Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter) and even the latest competitor called Threads is each unique in features, they all have play a huge influence on the snack and bakery industry.

“Something as seemingly simple as a recipe on a social media platform can go viral and run entire regions out of the specific ingredients used for that recipe in a matter of days - like the feta pasta trend seen on TikTok,” ​said CJ McClellan, senior strategic marketing manager for Blue Diamond, an agricultural cooperative founded in 1910 to market California almonds.

“Because of the instantaneous nature of social media and the ability for content to reach global audiences, food producers have the ability to greatly increase brand awareness.

“As a business, social media can be used to educate an audience, while also building a community of loyal fans, making the brand’s offerings a must-have for followers.”

On these platforms, consumer and brand posts alike have a golden opportunity to encourage industrywide trends, such as nostalgia with a twist, sustainable sourcing and clean label.

“Whether it be putting ‘everything [but the] bagel’ seasoning on, well, everything; hyping up all-natural, environmentally responsible ingredient alternatives or drumming up the nostalgia of s’mores pastries, the virality of social media content has the power to shape which brands will thrive - and those that don’t,” ​he added.

Tech that tells a story

Snack factory tech workers using tablet Getty
Pic: GettyImages

Even though constantly changing consumer demands continue to shape and evolve the bakery and snacks sectors, much of the innovation is shaped by technology, such as advancements in QR codes, automation and sustainability monitoring.

“As a manufacturer, technological advancements allow your brand to make leaps and bounds of progress when it comes to enhancing offerings and claims,”​ said McClellan.

“By incorporating more automated efficiencies within the processing of bakery and snack products, brands can save time when needing to troubleshoot a problem or even come up with new formulations.

“From a communications standpoint, brands can share their messages of ingredient transparency and tell the stories of the farmers through a simple QR code on the packaging. These technologies urge brands to push the limits when it comes to innovation and create exciting new products that adhere to consumer desires.

“On the shopper side, they have an entire world of information at their fingertips and can find out the history and benefits of the ingredients used within a product in an instant.

“Digital interaction also plays an incredibly important role in reshaping the way consumers approach changing their purchase behaviours. With technology providing a more engaging opportunity to interact with products, global shoppers can feel more connected to the offering and brand.

“Whether it’s an interactive video that consumers can access from a QR code on a protein bar or easily being able to learn about the sustainable impact of their purchase online, people are loving the ability to engage with their food through tech.”

Applied almond expertise

Whole and chopped almonds marekuliasz
Pic: GettyImages

So, how can producers capture these advancements and better position themselves as industry leaders?

McClellan believes almond ingredients offer the edge.

Ingredients like almond protein powder, almond butter and almond flour are perfectly poised to capitalise on the industry-sweeping trends like clean label and functional health.

According to McClellan, consumers are very aware of the value that almonds will add to a product, being it through added protein, fibre and other valuable nutrients like calcium and phosphorus, which improve bone health.

“At Blue Diamond, we’re committed to helping better our customer’s formulations - whether that be advanced processing assistance or trend monitoring,” ​he said.

“We are proud to bring over a century of evolving knowledge to help producers overcome formulation challenges to meet these growing technologically advanced trends.”

“By incorporating almond ingredients into their next formulation, brands can take their bakery and snack processing to a whole new level.”

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