Good Enough to Eat

Ingredients, formats adapt to meet demands for healthier, portable products.

With snacking on the rise among all consumers, especially a certainly highly coveted and well-publicized demographic, it's safe to say that candy and salty/savory snacks will continue to loom large on the American food landscape, but these mainstay items are adapting in response to shopper and retailer needs.

Chief among these needs are innovative product formulation and presentation.

"Due to increased health awareness and education, more and more consumers are seeking clean-label products made with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives," notes Eric Van Der Wal, VP of marketing at Clearview Foods, the better-for-you snack division of Charolette, N.C.-based Snyder's-Lance Inc. "Gluten-free, organics and products made with non-GMO ingredients are becoming particularly popular."

"We are seeing more emphasis on the nutrition value, ingredients and smaller serving sizes in candy and snacks," asserts Rob Auberbach, president of Louisville, Ky.-based CandyRific, a maker of licensed novelty products. "It's in perfect harmony with what is going on in the mainstream grocery."

Better Snacking

When it comes to the $13.7 billion snack category, although overall sales dollars are up 2.4 percent, caramel corn and popped popcorn offering have seen explosive growth of 13.1 percent for the 52 weeks ending March 11, on top of a 16.3 percent increase the previous year, according to Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen.

"In a single day, many consumers will reach for a nourishing treat in one daypart and something indulgent in another," asserts Pamela Reardon, chief marketing officer for Vernon, Cali.-based Popcornolpolis. "In terms of varieties, our research tells us that both sweet and savory snackers most often opt for comforting, familiar flavors with a contemporary twist – premium chocolate and natural cheese varieties top the list. Vibrant, authentic flavors and crispy-crunchy texture cue freshness and quality for consumers coast to coast.

– Article by Bridget Goldschmidt, Progressive Grocer

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