Consumers around the globe are snacking more frequently than ever, apparently listening to the health gurus who suggest eating smaller meals more frequently is healthier than the traditional daily three squares. Threading the salty-but-healthy snack combination is a major key in appealing to consumers over the next few years, according to a new report from Packaged Facts, which estimated U.S. sales of salty snacks reached $22 billion in 2015.
While the snackification of other products such as yogurt, cheese, and proteins such as meat snacks are pulling consumers away from salty snacks, there remains sufficient interest from consumers in the snacking staples—such as potato chips and tortilla chips that are found in three-quarters of homes—that sales of salty snacks will grow moderately well over the next five years despite the increased pressure from these competing snacks.
Potato chips continue to be the top salty snack seller in the United States, with the category taking in $7.5 billion in 2015, followed by tortilla and tostada chips at $5.2 billion in sales. The salty-but-healthy dichotomy also has spurred growth in the ready-to-eat popcorn segment, which just happens to satisfy consumer desire for convenient snacking as well.
Snack makers have been quick to develop new products and modify the ingredients of existing products to keep salty snacks relevant even with the push for better-for-you, indulgent products. As part of their ongoing and future growth strategies, snack makers are broadening flavor profiles by tapping into flavors traditionally found in other foods and other regions of the world and marrying them to existing salty snack formats such as potato chips or pretzels. The traditional flavor pairing of sweet and salty continues to appeal to consumers as well, particularly as the number of unique flavors in snacks grows and snackers look to satisfy any nostalgic snack cravings. New snack shapes are also a growing way for marketers to appeal to consumers, with new technologies allowing for innovation in the way the snacks are both shaped and cooked.