Health and wellness: the latest snacking trend

August 2, 2017

Perspectives on healthy eating are changing as consumers recognize the importance of eating a balanced, healthy diet. At the same time, food trends show that consumers are reluctant to give up on the convenience, portability and flexibility of traditional snack foods. Food trend expert Morgan Griffiths of thefoodpeople shared his insights in the healthy snacking trends of the future at Fruit Logistica in Germany earlier this year. There, he revealed how food producers can meet consumer demand for easy, on-the-go snacks.

We live in a day and age where consumers have the luxury to eat exactly what they want and when. The big drivers of this trend, said Griffiths, are the millennials with 35 percent using healthy snacks as meal replacement.

According to a recent report by Information Resources Inc. (IRI), How America Eats: 2016 State of the Snack Food Industry, baby boomers are also driving the trend. The report says the average consumer has 2.7 snacks per day, and 46 percent snack three or more times a day. According to their data, healthy snacks are even starting to outpace indulgent ones.

Piñabar, Dutch Food Technology

While satiety, nutrient density and protein are all driving factors in snack choice, Griffiths says the real driver of the snack sector is taste. According to IRI’s report, wellness also continues to play an important role in snack choices for consumers. Research shows that 52 percent want additional health benefits beyond nutrition, and 44 percent want natural and/or organic snacks. Following that trend, 60 percent want snacks that deliver an energy boost, and 49 percent specifically seek fruit and vegetable based snacks.

The rising trend was hard to miss at Fruit Logistica. Savvy food processors and processing equipment manufacturers showcased new ways to take advantage of the trend. Dutch Food Technology, for instance, launched its Piñabar, a robot that peels and slices fresh pineapple into snack-able rings and deposits it into a plastic container. The innovative company’s product addresses a number of trends: the importance of customer experience and a move towards shareable snacks.

Retail grocery stores in Spain and The Netherlands have tested the product by stacking fresh pineapples next to the Piñabar. So far, uptake has been impressive. In Spain, for instance, where retailer Carrefour had two machines on trial, pineapple sales increased by more than 80 percent.

Dutch Food Technology isn’t the only Dutch company taking advantage of the healthy snack trend. In The Netherlands, “food from the wall” is a familiar concept to most. Until recently, however, the food that came out of the wall was savory, salty and fatty. Groenten Fruit Huis (the Fresh Produce Centre) debuted its new concept, “fruit from the wall,” at the London Produce Show this June.

Even breeders are taking advantage of the healthy snack trend. One of 10 products nominated for an innovation award, Syngenta’s Crisp Delight, a fresh watermelon that provides a great example of the possibilities in healthy snacking. The seedless watermelon has been bred to have uniquely firm flesh, a feature that ensures longer shelf life. Cut product lasts 10 days, during which time it releases significantly less liquid than other varieties.

Fresh ‘n’ Go Bags, Schur Star Systems

Taking note of the rising healthy snack trend and the draw towards crunchy, savory snacks, some processors are now offering twists on old favorites. Texas-based Rhythm Superfoods, for instance, offers new healthy snacks, like kale and beet chips.

“We basically peel them and then we dehydrate them to get a crunchy texture,” Scott Jensen, company CEO was quoted as saying in a recent press release.

The idea is to provide health conscious consumers with nutritious options for snacking on the go.

Packaging companies have taken note of the healthy snack trend too. German packaging company Schur Star Systems, for instance, offers new “Fresh ‘n’ Go” bags designed to provide a higher degree of convenience for consumers. Not only is the packaging concept attractive and eye catching, but it has also been designed with a handle for ease of purchase. Finally, packaging includes a re-seal strip for convenient multiuse.

While some food trends come and go it looks like this one is here to stay. In fact, according to Morgan Griffiths, the healthy snack trend will likely continue well into 2025. Consumer demand speaks volumes; it’s time to answer the call.

“Brands are stretching to all-day offerings to satisfy our on-the-go eating and food delivery companies are growing and expanding to suit our “whatever, whenever” mentality,” Griffiths concluded. “The power is with the people as consumers are deciding exactly when and how they eat and drink.”

— Melanie Epp, contributing writer

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