Today we will look at six major trends currently evident in the Confectionary and Snack industry, each accompanied by a distinct countertrend. Both trends and their countertrends are a result of consumers wanting to eat healthier choices, yet believing that their snack choices should also represent a culinary indulgence. Research has uncovered an “80/20” rule at play when it comes to snack and candy choices. 80% of those who consider themselves healthy eaters opt to indulge in less-healthy choices 20% of the time, while 80% of people who regularly indulge will opt for a healthy snack and candy option 20% of the time.
Gluten-free food choices lead the snack and candy industry trends, balanced by a countertrend showing an increase of almost two dozen new snack items featuring a crunchy textures that are not gluten-free, including crisp breads and pita chips offered in both savory and sweet varieties.
The second major trend is a preference toward value pricing. Consumers continue to show a strong desire to receive discounts or get a great deal. The countertrend to this preoccupation with low prices shows up in the growing sales of superpremium offerings in the confectionary aisle, especially premium priced chocolate which the customer views as an indulgence they are willing to pay more to enjoy.
The third trend is a predominance of snack and candy items featuring nuts in chocolate bars and salty snacks, with almonds topping the list of favorites. Countering the popularity of the nutmeat trend is the use of such alternative ingredients as superseeds such as quinoa, chia and flax. Hemp seed is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient option, viewed both as a healthy choice thanks to its high protein content and 9 essential amino acids, as well as an indulgence that can be more premium priced.
The trend of filling retail snack shelves with a variety of popcorn options, including sweet kettle corn and low-fat varieties, continues to be strong. This perennial favorite is balanced with the emergence of new protein-added snack items featuring whey protein, pea protein as well as other protein derivatives.
The coconut chip trend has no indication of dying down, however, more expansive fruit and vegetable chip offers present the countertrend here. Chips are being created using everything from sweet potatoes and apples to mangos, while other new snacks are using fruit and vegetable purees as a key ingredient.
The sixth and final trend, the corn tortilla chip, continues to move forward, with manufacturers offering bolder tastes and more baked rather than fried preparations. But as more health conscious snackers want to avoid corn in their diets, they are driving the countertrend that is producing more snack offerings featuring seaweed, beans and rice in everything from crackers and puffs to chips.
Affecting these six trends and countertrends is the fact that, according to research done by the NDP Group, two out of every five snacks consumed in 2013 was an addition to a sit down meal. Most people consume 3 to 4 snacks daily, with teens and young adults consuming slightly more. Although consumers say they want healthy snack options, the reality is that only one out of three consumers makes their snack choice based on seeing that an item is labeled as being healthy.