May/June 2021

Consumers seeking healthy snacks turn to produce
By By Sean Riley, Senior Director, Media and Industry Communications, PMMI

Healthy food options are reaching the heights where labeling it a fad no longer applies. 

Regardless of food type, consumers are the primary drivers for healthier food options, including snacks, with bakery and snack product packaging trends revealing a growing demand for smaller portions, particularly for more nutritious salty and savory snacks. 

Consumers are leading increasingly busy lives, and when it comes to fruit and vegetables, they are generally looking for freshness, good taste and convenience.

One senior packaging engineer cited in Trends and Advances in Food Packaging and Processing, a report from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, said, “Anything with a ‘healthy halo’ for snacks is growing.”

Availability is the secondary driver of healthy snacks. With the rising urbanization and changing lifestyles of consumers, convenience stores have expanded to include healthy options. As single-serve healthy options grew in use, more prominent, traditional outlets for produce began embracing the smaller, packaged format. Retailers like Walmart and even Amazon are asking for smaller packages that allow them not only to meet demand but also to stack more on the store shelves. 

Trending up

The packaged fruit snacks market is projected to grow by $2.54 billion during from 2020 to 2024, progressing at a CAGR of 9% during the forecast period, according to research from Technavio as referenced in PMMI Snack Foods — Packaging and Processing Market Assessment and Trends.

Nuts/seeds, bars containing fruit and combo snacks are among the fastest-growing categories, with single-serve representing lower portions, fewer calories and an overall healthier experience. These segments are expected to account for 27% of the market share by 2024.

Packaging solutions

These single-serve portions can be tricky to package, often containing combinations of meat, cheese, nuts, fruits, veggies, dips, etc. Consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) in the produce sector need flexible equipment that can deal with a variety of different packages and package formats. The packaging implications include growth in flexible pouch filling machinery (especially form/fill/seal equipment) and shelf-ready secondary packaging machinery for single-serve fresh fruit, growth in flow wrappers for bars and an expansion in rigid tray filling and sealing equipment for combo snacks. Fast filling operations are also needed to deal with the growth of single-serve.

Ironically, resealability has also grown in use with single-serve packages. Consumers seem to want the smaller portion but do not necessarily intend to eat all in one sitting. This is particularly true with produce as consumers seek for the product to remain as fresh as possible for as long as possible. An added zipper or slider provides assurance that the produce maintains this freshness.

Offering vetted suppliers, PACK EXPO Connects is an easily searchable marketplace of over 700 leading solution providers in a diverse range of industries, serving as a resource for the most advanced packaging innovations. For more information and to access the solutions, visit Next up in the PACK EXPO Portfolio of Trade Shows is PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2021 (Sept. 27-29). More details to follow in the coming months. In the meantime, for more information, visit

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