Continued rise of the global snacking market

Confectionery Production explores the latest trends in snack products, from DNA mapping to bedtime biscuits. Daisy Phillipson reports

Thanks to the change in our work and life schedules, snack foods are no longer just a treat – they’re a necessity. Although many people stick to a traditional diet pattern, the gap between eating three square meals a day and replacing meals with snacks is narrowing.

In fact, a recent UK study showed that nine out of 10 shoppers snack everyday, four in 10 of consumers will snack instead of having a proper meal at least once a week and one in every 14 will skip meals altogether and rely on bite-sized refreshments to keep them going.

As such, the market is saturated with new product launches as manufacturers set to nab a slice of the grab-and-go pie. “Motivating consumers to try something new and keeping their attention in a snacking industry that is saturated with product innovation present big challenges for manufacturers,” explains Marcia Mogelonsky, Director of Insight at Mintel Food and Drink.

Eye-catching colour
One of the most effective ways to overcome this challenge is to innovate in line with trends to answer consumers’ ever-changing demands. As was pointed out by Mogelonsky, taste isn’t the only driver. “It’s not just standing out in a growing array of snack options; it’s also standing out on store shelves,” she explains.

To find success, it’s important to take into consideration eye-catching colours, engaging textures and creative packaging, while utilising the trend of natural colours to incorporate into new snack offerings. “In this ‘Instagrammable’ shareable era, it’s the most colourful and dynamic snack that grabs our attention,” adds Mogelonsky.

When it comes to end products, British premium ice cream brand Jude’s new range of ice lollies fits nicely into this trend. Not only do they taste great, but they’re made entirely from fruits and vegetables, while the packaging appeals to consumers’ sense of nostalgia with its retro rocket look and bright popping colours.

Another prime example is HipChips, which recently launched its range of snacks comprising hand-crafted crisps with a selection of fresh, sweet and savoury gourmet dips that both answer to the demand for unique and adventurous flavour profiles and to the visual appeal with eye-catching packaging.

Available in Sainsbury’s stores across the UK, there are currently two varieties, including the Savoury Box, containing sea salt crisps with a moroccan-style yoghurt dip, a beetroot, ginger and chilli dip, and a katsu dip, and the Sweet Box, containing cinnamon sugar crisps with a salted caramel dip, a passion fruit dip and a chocolate dip.

Once upon a time

While snacks with identifiable ingredients and recognisable origins are favourable, the rise of 3D printing and new technologies means we’re also starting to see a rise in products that tell our stories. “Personalisation and customisation are the way of the future,” says Mogelonsky.

This was kickstarted with the likes of DIY M&Ms and Coke’s ‘named’ cans. Not to mention Nutella’s and Ferrero Rocher’s personalised message labels, whereby customers could add their choice of name or message to the product.

The next step in this trend has already begun with the launch of Nestle’s ‘Wellness Ambassador’ program, which offers nutrition plans and products like nutrient-rich teas, smoothies and vitamin-fortified snacks that are allocated to individuals based on their sample blood tests and DNA mapping.
As shown, already some of the major players within the snack sector are innovating to come up with ways to tell the story of the customer. “But there’s room for more,” says Mogelonsky, making this another growth area for manufacturers to tap into in 2019 and beyond.

Balance is key
As always, health is one of the key drivers in the food sector overall – even when it comes to confectionery and sweet baked goods. This is the case across the world, including China, where Daisy Li, Associate Director of the Mintel Food and Drink team, says almost three in five consumers note snacking as an indispensable part of their everyday life.

“We are seeing a new trend and increasing demand for better-for-you (BFY) snacks,” says Li. “BFY snacks are often developed with more specific functional benefits that help with energy levels, digestion and weight management, among others.”

This has resulted in the emergence of probiotics, fibre and protein being used in the snacking industry, as well as the popularity of children-oriented products such as Messy Monkeys Strawberry & Apple Flavoured Snack Bars, which are described as a nourishing snack free from added sugar, gluten and artificial flavours and colours.

Another rising issue is how to lower stress in our busy modern lifestyles, highlighting the potential of new approaches to improving mental wellbeing with food. “In fact, consumers are turning to snacks to relieve their stress levels and make them feel happy,” adds Li.
This is another sector where snack brands can innovate and cater to stressed-out consumers, with the emergence of products such as Glico Mental Balance Milk Chocolates, which have been formulated with GABA to ease stress.

Midnight snack
In line with the development of snacks to improve mental wellbeing, Ayisha Koyenikan, Global Food and Drinks Analyst at Mintel, points out that consumers are increasingly interested in eating functional foods that deliver physical or mental benefits over and above satiation and nutrition, and yet on-the-go lifestyles are fueling growth in snacking occasions.

For years, the concept of a midnight snack has been considered an indulgent and unhealthy treat. However, Mintel forecasts that there is untapped potential for nighttime products that can add an element of calm and relaxation through consumption.

We’re already starting to see a number of new products hitting the market that tap into this trend, for example the Peaceful Night Snack, comprising dehydrated apple, cherry, banana and almond. Then there’s the Nourish Veda Relax 100% Natural Health Bar, a snack bar containing Holy Basil, a herb used for centuries due to its calming and sleeping aid properties.

“Interest in relaxing, calming nighttime products paired with a love of snacking points to a largely untapped opportunity for bedtime biscuits,” adds Koyenikan. With this in mind, creating snacks that incorporate functional and better-for-you ingredients could help to alleviate the guilt associated with the idea of midnight snacking.

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