Looking at the global snack trends over the last couple of years, we notice the days of mindless snacking are over. That is to say, shoppers are being more selective and conscious when choosing snacks in the supermarket aisles. In a time when the climate crisis, personal health, and a more natural approach to life are at the forefront, it’s no wonder that the top trending snacks reflect these ideals.

More shoppers are turning to products that are not only better for them, but better for the environment, too. Snackers are making better choices for themselves and the planet while still taking the opportunity to indulge . Let’s take a closer look at what’s trending in the world of snacks, and what exactly these trends mean to consumers.

 

Touching Nature

As the effects of global warming and the role that humans play in it become more and more evident, many people are changing their everyday habits to better address these crucial matters. Gen Z is vocal on social media about choosing natural and sustainable products, adopting a greener lifestyle, and swapping name-brand products for those that make a more positive impact. It’s not surprising, then, that Gen Z snacks and overall choices are starting to creep onto the radar of other generations.

Shoppers are looking for a return to nature. We see that many are interested in snacks that reflect caring for the planet, such as wholesomeness that you can both see and taste. Top trending snacks that are natural and wholesome are those that blend things like:

  • Fruits

  • Veggies

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Herbs

  • Spices

So, what does that look like? Think spiced banana chips, dipping crackers made from roasted linseed and buckwheat, and nori seaweed snacks with ancient grains. Veggie chips with added seeds and smoky spices like cumin and paprika are also a hit right now. Consumers are taking these snacks one step further by pairing natural, organic, or wholesome snacks with fresh veggies and herbs from their own gardens. Pairing snacks with unusual veggies, nuts, and seeds is also on the rise.

 

Turning Trash into Treasure

Food waste is something many people are looking to avoid. Not only are groceries more expensive than ever, but tossing produce just because it isn’t physically perfect is less and less acceptable. In fact, 20% of produce never even makes it to supermarket shelves just because it doesn’t look as appealing as retailers think it should. Instead, it’s thrown straight into the trash.

To combat this problem, snack producers are making both sweet and savory snacks from foods that would be otherwise destined for the trash bin. In the US, we see crackers made from leftover carrot juice and pulp, as well as chips made from produce deemed too ugly to sell. These products come in snack flavors like green curry, teriyaki BBQ, and summer truffle. In the UK, one snack on the rise is cauliflower chips made with locally grown cauliflower that doesn’t meet the supermarket beauty standards.

 

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 Conscious Snacking

Besides snacks that lead to a healthier planet, shoppers are interested in snacks that are good for their personal health. As science evolves and teaches us more about preventive care and the role that diet plays in fighting disease, consumers are dialing into this knowledge when choosing their snacks.

One of the top healthy snack trends we see are those that are low in carbs and have a boost of protein. Crunchy snacks, like chips and puffs, are especially popular. Producers are working in legumes and cheese to make these snacks heartier while still appealing to the senses. Grain-free chips made of almonds are not only low-carb but also high in protein and healthy fats. Packaged nuts, paired with items like fruit and cheese, are trending with the keto crowd as both snacks and meal replacements.

Lentil products and snacks are already seen as mainstream. The top healthy snacks that are on the rise are chickpea everything: chips, nut mixes, and even just roasted chickpeas with flavorings. Other legumes that are getting some love for their taste and high protein count are lupini beans, fava beans, and yellow peas. Puffed legumes are especially popular due to their fun texture. 

Besides what they’re eating, consumers are also concerned about how the things that they’re eating are made. Many are opting for products that have a shorter list of ingredients and include ingredients that they’re familiar with. Instead of fried foods, shoppers are leaning toward healthier and more natural production processes. This includes:

  • Air-popped popcorn and chips without oil

  • Baked snacks

  • Freeze-dried foods as both savory and sweet snacks

These snacks tend to be lower in oils, unhealthy fats, and sodium. People are looking for lighter flavors and textures but still want snacks that satisfy both their hunger and their cravings.

 

 A Bit of Indulgence

Even though shoppers are concerned about making good choices for the planet and themselves, they still want a little indulgence from time to time. For Gen Z shoppers, we see that they are more willing to buy indulgent products when they know where these items are coming from and what the company stands for. They want to buy products and support businesses that align with their ethics and values so that they can feel good about their purchasing power.

When it comes to snack consumption, people want to support small farmers, local businesses owned by minorities and women, and companies that prioritize high-quality ingredients and have an ethical and sustainable story to tell. Consumers are interested in hearing minority voices and learning about their products while putting their dollars toward companies that are concerned about things like animal welfare and transparent sourcing while offering delicious gourmet options.

 

Related: Trends in Pastry Fusion

 

Bringing Snacking to Another Level

Some of the top snacks right now are those that deliver not only on flavor but on experience. They are visually stimulating, have a variety of textures, and engage multiple senses. Snack producers are creating gourmet products that feel like something you would find in a restaurant or bar, allowing snackers to create an unforgettable experience at home.

Snack producers have also tapped into the feeling of comfort when it comes to culinary experience. Consumers are embracing nostalgic flavors that are both familiar and comforting. Not only are these snacks pleasing taste-wise, but they offer a mood boost and evoke good memories.

Similarly, snacks with far-flung flavors, such as from Africa, Asia, and Central America, transport snackers to a different place. Global snacks with a modern twist attract younger consumers by exposing them to new spices and flavor combinations early on. Snacks with international flavor profiles allow consumers to dream of traveling to far-off destinations without leaving the comfort of their kitchens.

 

The Future of These Trends

Looking at these post-COVID snack trends, we see that snackers are aligning their shopping choices with societal issues that are at the forefront. Whether it’s tackling climate change, making smarter health choices, or supporting businesses that support the same ethical causes, shoppers, especially Gen Z shoppers, are ready to put their money where their mouths are.

Besides ethics, snackers still want products that taste good but also provide a level of comfort. Snacks should evoke memories, create new ones, or allow people to dream of visiting the places that are home to the flavors that they enjoy so much. What’s key is that even though the cost of food seems to be ever-increasing, shoppers will still happily pay for snacks that offer both an experience and a way to feel good.

 

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