Snacks have taken on a new meaning for consumers in the last year. What were once simple indulgences have become a source of much-needed comfort and security in a troubled and uncertain time. Snacks also played a part in breaking up the day for those working from home. A survey by The Hartman Group of US consumers in October 2020 found that distraction played a role in a whopping 40% of snacks, while 43% of respondents said they snacked out of boredom or frustration.

These changing habits have sparked new product development and created new storage options for retailers. With lockdown measures easing in the UK, it’s time to take a fresh look at the latest snacking trends to discover the products that are set to hit a blow in the months ahead.

Healthy snacking

“In the past 12 months, Covid-19 has changed the way consumers do their daily lives significantly,” says Will Cowling, Marketing Manager at FMCG Gurus. And while this initially led to cravings for traditional sweet and salty snacks, growing health consciousness is taking hold and changing consumer priorities.

“The FMCG Gurus research shows that as of February 2021, 63% of consumers said the virus made them more aware of their overall health,” Will says. “Although the virus has peaked, concerns have increased 4% since July 2020. This shows that consumers are reevaluating their attitudes towards health and wellbeing, questioning what issues beyond the virus could affect their overall health. such as current diets and lifestyles and the associated health risks in later life. “

But the latest health kick doesn’t mean less snacking. Will explains, “Although consumers say they eat and drink healthier, 55% of UK consumers say they have had more snacks in the past month.” This means that a healthy makeover is okay for your snack aisles.

Matt Hodgetts, Specialty and Foodservice Manager at Peter’s Yard, agrees that healthy snacks will see a surge in innovation aided by changing government regulations. “The National Nutrition Strategy due July 2021 and the impact on HFSS [high fat, salt and sugar food and drink] Regulations will lead to a lot of innovation in this category, ”says Matt. In fact, new brands are making the most of this convergence of government regulations and consumer habits with new launches such as the cracked vegetable chips from Good & Honest, the seed snacks from Pep & Lekker, and the new Simply Roasted line of healthier chips from Mindful Snacker.

“Regulatory changes can give brands whose products comply with the regulations secondary space and advertising space,” says Matt. “This is a fantastic opportunity for brands that are better for you, and it brings more competition to the market that gives consumers better choice.”

Functional ingredients

The drive for healthier snacking will also be a call for transparency, with brands taking the lead that make their ingredients and health claims clear. “Most notably, with increasing awareness of the links between Covid-19 and other underlying health issues, consumers are becoming more aware of what exactly goes in their foods,” says Zoe Oates, director at The Honest Bean, which has fava bean snacks and – Makes dips. “This is where brands like The Honest Bean are successful because it is transparent what is in their products, with a minimal list of ingredients. They are also bursting with B vitamins and are rich in potassium, magnesium and iron. ”

Of particular interest are snacks that have specific benefits for consumers, such as: B. the increase in energy levels or immunity. “Consumers are turning to functional snack options like high-protein bars and typical sports nutrition snacks, suggesting that a segment of consumers are moving away from traditional snack products and looking for healthier alternatives,” says Will of the FMCG Gurus. “Protein has been a growing trend in the last few years and around half of all UK consumers want to add extra protein to their diet,” adds Zoe.

Lucinda Clay, co-founder of Munchy Seeds, has also seen a strong shift towards snack solutions that offer “the satisfaction and great taste that consumers love, along with high-quality, natural ingredients that are also nourishing and energizing”. She continues, “Our seeds are a perfect match for this consumer demand because you can eat something savory or sweet while enjoying a good dose of protein, fiber and omega-3s.

Sustainable innovations

While health snacks have seen a significant boost from Covid, they’re not the only products consumers are reaching for. As always, the focus is on products with a low environmental impact and with local ingredients.

Traditionally, when consumers look for eco-friendly foods, they have focused on plant-based options or products with sustainable packaging. Now savvy buyers go even further. “Consumers are no longer just looking for plant-based options, but are now paying attention to the entire supply chain,” says Zoe. “Some foods like avocados and almonds are known to pollute the environment and deplete water resources, so they cannot be sustainably grown and imported.” With consumers becoming more conscious, it is not surprising that consumers are starting to focus on products focus on using sustainable ingredients. Fava beans, for example, are grown in the UK, are environmentally friendly to grow and offer an alternative to other legumes like chickpeas, which are normally grown in the Middle East before being transported to the UK to make products like humus. “Fava beans also fix nitrogen, improve soil health and reduce the need for nitrogen-based fertilizers, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions and meets all of the criteria for the growing number of consumers looking for a sustainable option,” says Zoe.

With eagle-eyed shoppers hunted for the most sustainable products on the shelves, stocking more sustainable options in the left panel could turn you into a crowd puller. Take Little Giants, for example. The brand uses insect powder in its snacks to offer a more sustainable alternative to other proteins. “We are seeing an epochal transition from traditional meat-based proteins to a wider range of alternatives. This is happening because people are increasingly aware of the devastating effects of traditional proteins, ”says Francesco Majno of Small Giants. “Personally, I believe we should be forward-thinking and aiming for breakthrough solutions that are more complex but could bring greater benefits to future generations.

“Insects are among the most promising alternatives and offer tremendous benefits in terms of both nutritional value and sustainability. That’s why we developed insect-based snacks at Small Giants, ”he continues. Could insect-based snacks catch on, or is this just a passing fad? “In the past, when a new food was introduced into a different culture, it usually took a while to be accepted,” says Francesco. “Today the acceptance phase has been drastically reduced, people are used to eating out and buying food from all over the world. So it’s not surprising that 42% of Britons are now ready to try insects. “

The return of formats for on the go

With the loosening of lockdown restrictions, brands are once again prioritizing the development of products on the go. “Healthy on-the-go snacks are undoubtedly a growing market full of innovation,” says Julian Campbell, founder of Funky Nut Co. The brand launched a plant-based pretzel snack filled with peanut butter to keep vegan and healthy trends, and its resealable packaging is the key to success, making it ideal for consumers who nibble on the go.

The healthy snack brand Kallø is also returning to eating on the go after a change in habits during the lockdown. “Demand for Kallø’s jumbo packs of rice and corn cakes has increased during the pandemic, and with the lock being lifted, we are turning our attention to smaller pack sizes to meet the needs of consumers on the move,” says Hayley Murgett, Kallø Brand Controller at Ecotone UK. “Since rice cakes are consumed 1.8 times a week and 22.3% of these occasions are“ brought ”from home, Kallø is expanding its popular range of chocolate and yoghurt to a double pack format for on the go,” says Hayley.

Moments of joy

Although the demand for healthy snacks is apparently growing, consumers are still looking for enjoyment while snacking and occasionally resort to products that are not necessarily healthy. “Findings from FMCG Gurus show that products like potato chips, chocolate and cookies have increased since July 2020,” says Will. “This suggests that there is a slight gap between attitudes and behavior as consumers are unwilling to forego products that they associate with moments of enjoyment and comfort in times of uncertainty.”

The sweet spot will be snacks that combine health with pleasure. “As people have spent more time at home over the past year, they have been careful to eat and drink to give them moments of simple home enjoyment,” Matt adds. “Peter’s Yard did a good job on this occasion.” In fact, during the Covid pandemic, Peter’s Yard saw a “significant increase” in specialty retail sales, offsetting a decline in foodservice sales. The brand has also seen sales growth due to the surge in food delivery boxes, cheese subscription boxes, baskets and pasture plates. “Since there is no gastronomy, consumers have decided to pamper themselves at home and discover new specialties.” Since consumers are already convinced of the advantages of specialty snacks, it is up to the retailers to choose the right products lead to meet demand.

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