Snacking is no longer just a TV treat or a stopgap between meals. Consumers today are as likely to snack as eat a meal, a shift increasingly seen since the COVID-19 pandemic and influenced by evolving lifestyle factors.
As on-the-go and social occasions have resumed after the pandemic, snacking has returned to accompany commutes and travel by car and public transport. The new reality of hybrid working has also driven a rise in snacking at home. Data shows that 49% of US consumers snack three or more times per day, a figure that’s fuelled by younger generations such as Gen Z (68%).1 In the UK, 96% of consumers have eaten snacks in the past two weeks.2
But snacking can be a messy business. Residue from seasoning and grease can transfer to fingers and onto screens and other surfaces. According to consumer research, 67% of UK snackers consider ‘dirty’ fingers caused by snacks a problem.3 Almost 50% of consumers say that snack residue transferring to keyboards and other digital devices is a problem when working from home.4 It’s a similar issue at social occasions, with snack residue causing discomfort for 40% of consumers who are forced to lick or wipe their fingers in front of family and friends.
Even at home, snacking is a problem when watching TV for 30% of consumers and for 25% of gamers, as residue finds its way onto equipment and consoles.3 And for consumers on the move, snacks which result in dirty fingers are considered a problem for 31% of snackers when driving and 30% who travel by public transport.3 While paper napkins are an option, they’re not always practical or available.
In short, consumers prefer to keep their hands clean when snacking, preferring to have the flavour in their mouth not on their hands. In fact, 93% of consumers said they would consider a snack which delivers great taste without leaving any residue an appealing proposition.4
So how can manufacturers enhance the snacking experience for consumers without compromising on taste? Can those awkward social moments be eliminated, along with the need for wiping residue from keyboards, steering wheels and mobile phones?
Enhancing the snacking experience
Clean Fingers by Griffith Foods is a new proposition in the market that meets consumers’ needs in terms of maintaining cleanliness during snacking while still delivering on taste. Designed to enhance the snacking experience for consumers who want to snack while doing other activities, Clean Fingers is an adhesion solution provided by a functional seasoning that offers both flavour and convenience.
“Our consumer product testing* across Europe showed that consumers were pleasantly surprised as well as easily able to express the advantages of ‘Clean Fingers’ in various snacking occasions,” says Mieke Bloemen, Snacks Market manager Europe & UK.
“They also perceived the Clean Fingers samples as healthier than their usual brand, citing a feeling of less oil, lack of extra salt and less visible flavouring.”
The concept is suitable for a range of snacks that maintain their shape when sprayed with water including tortillas, coated nuts, roasted seeds, lentils and chickpeas, crisps (kettle, popped and baked), mini crackers rice cakes, and more. Perfectly tailored to consumers’ buying motives, Clean Fingers fits into busy lifestyles and supports hassle-free, on-the-go snacking without interrupting everyday work, travel and relaxation. Keeping fingers clean while snacking at work and home means that consumers can focus on their screens and not be distracted by dirty keyboards and other devices.
Clean Fingers uses zero oil spray for adhesion. It therefore minimises fat on the substrate giving it the potential to be adapted to meet Better For You credentials, such as sodium reduction, source of fibre and protein enrichment. The functional seasoning can also be adapted for Nutri-Score or non-HFSS guidelines and is suitable for gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian snack products. From an appearance perspective, it has the potential to include small visuals of herbs and/or spices in the formula.
Furthermore, research shows that consumers associate snacks made with Clean Fingers as being healthier; thanks to its water-base adhesion, it is naturally less greasy than other concepts with a matt finish and a less visible seasoning.
For manufacturers, it can support less wasteful processes, too, as the seasoning stays on the snacks instead of falling off into the packet or onto fingers. Another opportunity for processors is that consumers in Griffith Food’s Consumer Product testing* indicated they would pay 10-30% more for a Clean Fingers snack.
Clean Fingers launches with a range of five demonstration seasonings (Nacho Cheese, Sour Cream & Onion, Smokey BBQ, Sweet Chilli and Hot Jalapeno) and every formula can be tailormade to meet customized formulations and to meet individual requirements. Other flavour profiles can be created, tailored to the needs of the manufacturer.
The production process requires just two additional steps. After the processing of the substrate, a mix of hot water and seasoning is sprayed on as a functional water slurry. This is then dried until all excess water has evaporated, before cooling and packing.
‘A second drying step is needed to applicate our Clean Fingers concept’, says Barbara Hendrickx, Snacks Technologist. “This allows the snack to reach the desired moisture content.”
Clean Fingers is a unique proposition enabling processors to create flavour impact for consumers who want a clean-eating experience. As consumers’ busy lifestyles evolve, supporting manufacturers to create the perfect snacking experience for every occasion can, in turn, lead more frequent snacking occasions and help brands stand out in the marketplace.
For more information and to receive samples of Clean Fingers for Snack Seasonings contact Griffith Foods.
* Griffith Foods Consumer Product testing, qualitative research in UK, France and Germany (August 2023).
1. Circana: 2023 Snacking Survey. The Snacking Supernova: How to Win in the 2023 Snacking Universe. (April 2023).
2. Mintel. UK Consumer Snacking Market.
3. Griffith Foods online survey, UK Snacks Consumers 2023.
4. Vypr, an online consumer platform to gain insights about consumer-related topics: Opportunity Sizing Clean Fingers by Griffith Foods, 2023. (Source: Griffith Foods).