Any time is snack time, and everything is a snack. While this is great news for snack manufacturers, it also means that their competition is coming from more categories than ever before.
Innovation in the snacking category is booming, with big players launching Incubator programs to learn from food start-ups, and a lot of small brands who are popular because they find new ways of distribution beyond classic retail. In this snacking innovation race, let’s have a look at some key trends. We combined industry insights by Mintel with insights from Snackex show in Barcelona and our own experience and we see 4 key trends shaping the snacking space:
- Taste comes first
- Colour & texture add to an exciting eating experience
- Balance between pleasure and health
- Lifestyles as a guide
Taste comes first
When it comes to fruit snacks, we see clear 3 important trends leading the way:
- Classics keep going strong
Raspberry, strawberry, apple and blackcurrant stay amongst the most preferred fruit tastes.
- The perfect blend
The success of flavour combinations largely depends on the consumer group you are trying to reach. For adult snacks, mango-passion is a popular combination (although sales volumes are limited). Superfruit blends like pomegranate & blueberry are on the rise. For kid’s snacks, strawberry-banana stays popular.
- Accessible yet on-trend
Flavours that combine a familiar flavour with a new element are a smart idea. Herbal and flower notes score well. Combinations that have proven to be successful in our lab include strawberry & basil, cherry & chili and apricot & rosemary. More adventuruous flavour blends include pineapple with curry and strawberry with pink pepper.
Colour & texture for an exciting eating experience
In the “eat with your eyes era”, colour in nutrition has become an important part of the eating experience. Colourful ingredients such as vegetables or fruit contribute to the Instagrammability of food. Snacks that are bright, with contrasting colours trigger the attention of foodies.
Next to colour, texture is an innovation area not to ignore. Snack products with layers, combining multiple textures, are gaining more traction. Combinations of crunchy, creamy, crispy, pulpy, and contrasting textures contribute to an exciting eating experience.
If you plan to experiment with texture, 2 considerations are key:
- Accessible yet exciting
Finding the right balance between accessibility and excitement is the key to success. Tweaking a proven successful snack flavour like raspberry with a crunchy ingredient like seeds or popcorn, adds just that little bit of excitement.
- It’s a local thing
What appeals to consumers in one geographical area might turn off those in another area. As formulators, it is important to understand the regional differences in texture preferences, and to avoid a one-size-fits-all mindset.
Balance between pleasure & health
Consumers are constantly juggling between healthy snacks and indulgent snacks. On the one hand, they are clearly looking for healthy snacks that are better for them and deliver functional benefits, like more energy or relaxation. On the other hand, they still want to reward themselves with an indulgent little treat. The opportunities are on both sides of the spectrum. Healthy snacks look for new and tasty ways to bring fortification in a pleasant format. Indulgent snack brands can look for new ways to make their snack “permissible”, like size reduction, sugar reduction or caloric reduction.
Lifestyle as a guide
People’s personal agenda is in constant evolution and is often a factor of age and lifestyle. This evolution makes it crucial to develop snacks from a consumer lifestyle perspective, rather than from a category perspective (sweet snacks or savoury snacks).
The new Global Consumer Types 2019 report by Euromonitor confirms that consumers cannot only be grouped by geography and demographics, but distinguishes different personality-driven consumer types, that make very conscious yet different product choices. Different personality types include: people who carefully plan purchases, people who follow latest trends, people who care deeply about the environment, people who want to live life to the fullest, people who worry about the future.
It helps to have a very clear view on the personality of the people you develop your snack for.
So what's next?
In the snacking innovation race, focus first on taste: after all, you want to to create a delightful eating moment. Second, rate your new product on colour and texture. Third, find the right balance between pleasure and health. And fourth, create a clear view of the personality of your target consumer.