‘The mindful snacking movement has just taken its first bite, with potential still ripening’

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

SVZ predicts a sweet future ahead for brands that can innovate conscientiously. Pic: GettyImages/Tara Moore
SVZ predicts a sweet future ahead for brands that can innovate conscientiously. Pic: GettyImages/Tara Moore

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Conscientious consumers increasingly seeking out healthier, more sustainable snacks, which presents major opportunities for innovation. But what are these shifting consumer values?

Neither inflation nor market turbulence have retarded the snack market’s enviable growth this decade. Overall, 49% of consumers snack three times a day or more, which is an 8% uplift on the prior two years, according to Circana’s 2023 Snacking Survey.

“Snacks are becoming such a prevalent part of our daily routines that as many as 55% of us make a meal from snacks at least weekly [Mondelez International],” Dejan Trifunović, business intelligence manager of SVZ, told Bakery&Snacks.

But what is it these snack-loving consumers want?

“The better-you-for snack segment has had a sustained positive trajectory since the pandemic years, when more consumers became aware of their health and wellbeing. And while better-for-you options were once a trend, now they’re an expectation.”

Innova’s 2023 Snacking with Benefits report noted globally, 60% of respondents are more aware of mindful snacking (up 7% from the previous year), while 61% say they always seek healthy alternatives to common snacks (up 75% on the year previously). The number one driver of better-for-you snacks across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia is the desire for a healthier lifestyle. 

Going back to basics

The market researcher also found one in four consumers consider clean label as an indicator of the healthfulness of products.

“In 2024, simple recipes with recognizable ingredients will outshine the intensity of the highly processed options,” said Trifunović.

“Shoppers want pared-down labels listing natural foods they can visualize in their own homes, like the purple carrot in Simply Nature’s veggie crackers. Fruit and vegetable ingredients provide both natural bases and star inclusions for snack formulations, supporting clean label formulations. Carrot, pumpkin and strawberries, for example, can be easily incorporated into pastry and cake fillings to provide a cleaner, artificial ingredient-free version of beloved sweet treats, while also adding volume, fiber and texture without distracting from the main flavor.”

However, he added, “the ‘clean’ analogy goes beyond the label. How ingredients are grown, harvested and processed has a direct impact on the quality and nutritional value of the final product.

“As consumers increasingly demand snacks made with minimally processed ingredients, ensuring high standards across the entire supply chain is crucial. Transparent sourcing stories further reassure consumers that quality produce arrives from field to facility intact and without any negative environmental repercussions. Tactics such as minimal processing and farm-to-shelf transparency help position snacks as freshly made and minimally tampered with. And with recognizable, quality ingredients as heroes, snacks feel genuinely wholesome. Shoppers reward clarity with loyalty.”

The great plant-based shake-up

SVZ_Credits shutterstock_680425867 Pic from Silvia Vara at BDB
Pic provided by SVZ

It’s agreed across the board the plant-based movement will continue to grow, whether motivated by ethical considerations, personal health or environmental awareness.

“We predict sweet vegan bakery – including desserts – will grow in popularity this year,” said Trifunović.

“This also appeals to flexitarians and non-vegans seeking healthier options compared to traditional rich desserts laden with cream and butter. With costs high on consumers’ priority lists, impulse food decisions are likely to decrease, and we believe more thoughtful indulgence will be favored. What better than a plant-based chocolate mousse flavored with real strawberry puree, or a coconut milk cheesecake infused with real berry concentrate?”

Mindful snacks

No longer defined by clinical nutrition, the modern healthy diet encapsulates positive emotional and mental balance alongside physical vitality and waistline watching.

According to FMCG Gurus’ Top Ten Trends for 2024,​ conscious consumers want snacks that satisfy mind, body and soul. They are also increasingly educated on how nutrition can be harnessed to enhance their wellbeing at different life stages.

“As a response to this growing trend, we see the emergence of antioxidant-rich treats like beetroot bites and passionfruit bars that are designed to enhance immunity alongside mood, or probiotic-powered options such as carrot cake energy balls that aim to tap into the gut-mind axis.

“The rise of functional treats echoes wider recognition that self-care starts from within. High quality, responsibly sourced fruit and vegetable ingredients provide ethical building blocks for elevated snacks with appeal. The mindful snacking movement has just taken its first bite, with potential still ripening.”

Good-for-you and good-for-the-planet

Squeezing tomato Getty Yuki Kondo
Pic: GettyImages/Yuki Kondo

“Sustainability is no longer a preference,” said Trifunović, noting Future Market Insights’ 2023 Vegan Meals Market report found 53% of consumers want adventurous and exotic flavors, but they also want the fruits harvested, transported and produced responsibly.

“Products are going to be judged not only on nutrition and taste, but on agricultural impact and supply chain ethics. There’s a growing expectation for producers to adopt resourceful and environmentally friendly practices that preserve biodiversity and natural resources. “

Trifunović said brands should develop snacks that demonstrate resourcefulness. Upcycled ingredients, for example, have growing appeal, thanks to their ability to address food waste, such as Gusto Snacks' better-for-you and better-for-the-planet snacks.

“At SVZ, we transform ‘imperfect’ produce originally destined for landfill into flavor-packed, versatile ingredients. Such as tomato puree, which can be incorporated into a wide variety of applications including baked goods and savoury snacks. Production methods such as this provide consumers with products they feel good about while reducing environmental impact.”

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