Even those embracing health and wellness need a little indulgence, which is what our Healthy Lifestyle Initiative calls Permissible Pleasures. This rings true especially when it comes to snacking.
Categories traditionally associated with indulgent sweet and savory snacks are incorporating health and wellness elements, using alternative ingredients to recreate the pleasing look, feel, and taste experience but without the detrimental health effects. This mindset opens new opportunities to provide flavor and taste solution alternatives that add permissibility to snacks that already have appeal and universal accessibility. It also feeds into the consumers‘ desire to have more interesting and fun snacking experiences without guilt. In this article, we explore the trends and areas open to innovation for the snacking category to fit best within the rise of Symrise Flavor North America’s Healthy Lifestyle Initiative.
TREND 1: SNACKING BETWEEN THE LINES
The line between regular meals and snacks are being blurred, with snacking mindsets now aligned with seeking satisfaction and nutrition that doesn’t compromise on taste. Even with schedules disrupted due to the pandemic, adults are still sticking to the traditional three-meals-a-day pattern for the most part with dinner being the least skipped meal of the day. According to Mintel, more than eight in 10 adults reporting that they eat dinner every day. Snacking, however, is not being skipped and happening more often now at all times of the day thanks to “new normal” routines for many adults and children spending more time at home without the rigid scheduling of work or school.
According to Mintel, nearly half of adults say they have a morning snack at least a few times a week, and roughly six in 10 snack often in the afternoon or in the evening. Snacking was once most commonly associated with needing a little treat to tide one over between lunch and dinner, but now all-day snacking under a Healthy Lifestyle diet means consumers are looking for something not just beneficial, but satisfying. Snacking, in part, is compelled by the desire to treat oneself, and the act of snacking helps amplify physical and emotional stimulation to improve mood and relieve anxiety, according to Mintel’s Senior Food and Drinks Analyst, Jolene Ng. Brands can enhance this pleasurable experience through multi-sensory snack features and add health benefits to reduce any feelings of guilt no matter what time consumers are reaching for a treat.
Some trending ingredients include alternative natural sources of energy that are being used as a caffeine replacement such as wheatgrass, spirulina, yerba mate and beet nitrates, to give snackers a boost to start their day. There is also a rise in functional ingredients that can help with mental and psychological health being used as a natural way to help focus and increase productivity with ingredients like gingko biloba, Siberian ginseng, and L-Theanine in many new product releases over the past few years.
In North America, consumers are increasingly scrutinizing product labels and ingredient lists, looking for more natural ingredients that are perceived as the healthier option in their better-for-you snacks. According to Mintel, 61% of, or more than six in 10, U.S. consumers consider chips made from all-natural ingredients healthier than other chips. This opens up opportunities for snack brands to position themselves as the better option for these consumers focused on what’s listed on the label by incorporating more natural ingredients as the main attraction of their products, reducing calories, and removing trans or saturated fats.
Many achieve this by incorporating natural syrups and sugars that act as an alternative to satisfy a sweet tooth and plant alternatives that live at the intersection between health, sustainability and experience plant alternatives into their ingredient lists, such as almond, oat, and coconut milks in ready-to-drink coffee and tea beverages. For salty snacks, taking advantage of texture, versatility of the category, and trending ingredients, such as popcorn sprinkled with charcoal for digestive support, can elevate these products in a consumer’s mind due to their innovative flavors that’s typically seen on shelves but in demand within the Healthy Lifestyle community.
TREND 3: BETTER AND MORE CONVENIENT
Consumers love anything that’s easy-to-grab, easy-to-clean-up, especially when it comes to handheld snacks, especially in North America, but healthy packaged snacks lag behind less-healthy options in vending machines and check-out counters when it comes to packaging and no-fuss convenience. To give health-conscious consumers more options, brands are focusing on packaging innovations to make it easier to choose the healthier option while also cutting down on waste and time. Re-sealable and steamable packaging makes snacking easy to regulate and put away for consumers still at home and in close proximity to their kitchens all day. Convenient packaging that’s single serving or sealable also opens the door for less-typical foods, like asparagus marinated in rosemary and oregano, to be considered a snack.
While convenience is important to U.S. consumers, so is the desire for better sustainability in their snacks and packaging in the wake of the global climate crisis. Transparency in a brand’s commitment to sustainability as well as improved packaging are ways to appeal to the health and environmentally conscious consumer while improving promoting shelf stability and longevity in their products.