Food & Beverage Perspectives
Free-From Claims Driving Healthy-Ingredient Snack Sales

Free-From Claims Driving Healthy-Ingredient Snack Sales

Snacking is a way of life for Americans, with more than 90 percent of consumers reaching for a snack at least once a day. Top of mind for consumers are portable snacks made with simple, clean-label ingredients that deliver on functionality. In fact, consumer are demanding snacks with fewer ingredients and “free-from" credentials for products, particularly the removal of allergens, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and gluten. Other key drivers include premiumization, unique and innovative flavors, a shift toward bite-sized and single-serve sized snacks, and a continued trend toward healthier eating.

Healthy-ingredient snacks offer the perfect convergence of many important modern food industry trends and as a result the segment is thriving. The sector saw 4.7 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2011 and 2015, ringing up sales to $19.3 billion for 2015, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.

Double-digit growth in the meat snack and trail mix categories in 2014 was followed by continued strong growth in meat snack sales as well as strong growth in granola and snack bar sales in 2015.

Snacking is a way of life for Americans, with more than 90 percent of consumers reaching for a snack at least once a day. Top of mind for consumers are portable snacks made with simple, clean-label ingredients that deliver on functionality. In fact, consumer are demanding snacks with fewer ingredients and “free-from" credentials for products, particularly the removal of allergens, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and gluten. Other key drivers include premiumization, unique and innovative flavors, a shift toward bite-sized and single-serve sized snacks, and a continued trend toward healthier eating.

As noted in the “Healthy-Ingredient Snacks in the U.S., 2nd Edition" report examining meat snacks, snack bars, snack nuts, fruit snacks and trail mixes, the past two years in particular have seen much stronger market growth due to double-digit gains in the meat snack and trail mix categories in 2014, and stronger growth in snack bars in 2015. In fact, the healthy-ingredient snack segment is projected to have a 5.7-percent CAGR between 2016 and 2020.

A number of industry trends are influencing the healthy-ingredients snack sector including:

  • A growing preference among snackers for products that provide more healthful options than typical snacks.
  • “Free from” remains a top driving trend for healthy-ingredient snack sales, with allergen- and gluten-free claims the most popular.
  • Protein, bite-sized snacks, and innovative flavors are in high demand.
  • A 30-percent increase in the percentage of adults who believe they snack healthier, which has climbed to 30 percent in the last decade
  • The term “natural” as a marketing tool may have to change if FDA adopts regulations concerning the term.

Not to be overlooked is retailers increasingly marketing private-label healthy snacks. Retail chains have recognized the growing interest of consumers for healthy-ingredient snacks and are developing and introducing new products to the segment. In the convenience channel, the most notable new brand is 7-Eleven’s 7-Select Go!Smart brand and its yogurt-drizzled snack bars. In the natural channel, Trader Joe’s does a significant amount of in-store ads and out of category displays for its many distinctive private label healthy-ingredient snacks. Supermarket chain Aldi introduced its Simply Nature line of all natural and organic foods at the beginning of 2014, and continues to support and advertise the brand as a permanent addition to its Private Brand portfolio. The brand includes fruit and nut bars, energy bars, and fruit snacks as part of its offerings.

Looking to learn more about snacks? Join us at the SupplySide West panel discussion Bite-Sized Satisfaction: Snacking to Better Health panel discussion on Friday, Oct. 7 at SupplySide West. This session is underwritten by BASF, the official education sponsor of SupplySide West. Clean label will be a featured topic at SupplySide West this year. There will be a full-day immersive event on Wednesday, Oct. 5 around “Delivering on the Clean Label Expectation." The event is getting lots of buzz and you can check out the agenda and speaker lineup here.

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