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A World View of Snack Innovation

February 28, 2021 | 3 min read

It’s a healthy outlook

Hot off the (virtual) presses, I just received Mintel’s trend report, “A Year of Innovation in Salty Snacks & Fruit Mixes, 2021.” It’s a global look at the market and gives a sense of what to look for in the year ahead. Since these reports always include examples of new products from far flung markets, you get a glimpse of what flavors and snack types are launching elsewhere. Then you can wonder – would bubble tea-flavored seaweed snacks find acceptance in the U.S.? Probably not, but they may spark an idea for something that would. So, without further introduction, here’s what stood out to me in the report. 

According to the report’s author, adventurous flavors, better-for-you formulations, convenience and sustainability will be shaping the snacks we see in the global market in the year to come.

Opportunity areas noted by Jolene Ng, senior food and drinks analyst, along with my interpretation:

  • Permissible indulgence becomes holistic – viewing snacks (a pleasurable diversion) as a vehicle to improve mood and relieve stress.
  • Fuel individualism while creating shared connections – snack customization paired with a stimulus for social media sharing to nurture brand loyalty.
  • Focus on being planet positive – share your brands’ sustainability plans and be transparent about how you’re going to achieve them.

While the U.S. leads per capita snacking, China leads the world in snack volume. India and Turkey are markets on the horizon with strong growth forecasted.

  • Europeans look for snacks to be nutritious, and as a vehicle for boosting their nutrient intake, such as getting more fiber or protein with chickpea nachos and vegetable tortilla chips.
  • In the Asia Pacific region, innovation is focused on flavor, unusual or experimental ones. You’re more likely to see unfamiliar Western flavors and snack bases here, yet salt and cheese are the most common flavors among launches. Go figure.New products include, coffee jelly oolong milk tea flavored potato chips, fruit yogurt popcorn, zucchini and mushroom crisps, and fresh cucumber flavored potato chips. Natural is another claim that’s heating up in the region. It’s tied to no additives/preservatives or genetically modified ingredients.
  • Looking at the Americas alone, the U.S. not only has the highest per capita consumption, it is the largest market by volume. Mexico is a distant second but is forecast to sustain healthy growth.

Even before the pandemic, snacking had become an eating occasion in the U.S., so it’s no surprise snack sales are strong. Beyond consumer interest in resealable packaging, there’s a focus on natural and better-for-you snacks. Supporting that notion is the belief among 61% of U.S. consumers that chips made from all-natural ingredients are healthier than other chips. Just imagine how healthy apple chips might be perceived. (Lightspeed/Mintel, Nov. 2019) New healthy nibbles include beet chips, plantain chips, sweet potato chips and not chips – ready-to-eat steamed, marinated asparagus.

Mintel observes this behavior as being on the “bannedwagon” where consumers decide what’s healthy for themselves by reading labels, dismissing products with ingredients that don’t fit their lifestyle. This encompasses sugar reduction, fat reduction, carb reduction, free from (fill-in-the-blank), non-GM – you name it. Healthy is now DIY.   

Healthy snacks are also in demand in Latin America where awareness of the link between diet and health is fueling interest. Less fat, sugar, and salt are what is deemed healthy. Mintel data shows Latin America has the largest number of snack-launches with minus claims compared to other global regions. Chia laced, bean based, nutrient loaded snacks made with local ingredients are among the new products in the region.

Fruit, it’s so 2021!

Fruit is an ideal choice for snacks in 2021. Its naturally healthy halo matches the consumer desire for nutritious, better-for-you snacks. Fruit ingredients can add fiber, phytonutrients, help reduce added sugars and improve taste. If you’re looking to create a snack for the future with the goodness of fruit, let’s talk.

Tree Top offers more fruits, in more forms, offering food formulators more possibilities to incorporate healthy and wholesome ingredients into their products. Our expertise in transforming fresh fruits into unique and cost-effective ingredients is what makes Tree Top a leading supplier to the world’s top food manufacturers. Check out our full line of Fruit-based ingredients and let us help you develop your next product offering.

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