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During the pandemic, innovation took a backseat as food manufacturers sought to shore up sales of established products rather than take a risk on something new. But as Covid-19 restrictions ease, producers are igniting their imaginations to create inventive snacks that appeal to newly revamped consumer habits.
Speciality Food looks into six of the trends that retailers should keep an eye on this year.
According to Innova Market Insights, today’s consumers “demand new formats, new plant proteins and an extra level of sophistication” when it comes to their plant-based snacks. In this area, however, flavour has long been a key driver, and Innova says “plant-based indulgence” will drive new product developments today. In fact, in the last five years, snacks with vegan or no animal ingredient claims grew by 11.8% annual, according to Mintel’s Global New Product Launch Database.
From mushroom or jackfruit jerky to dairy-free chocolate, Innova’s Top Trends for 2021 report says this means “combining natural and free-from benefits in established areas such as chocolate, extruded snacks, nuts and snack mixes, while also featuring novel ingredients as varied as hemp and hibiscus”.
With more and more consumers looking for healthier snacks to enjoy, producers are making use of alternative ingredients, such as stevia, to improve their health credentials while ensuring bold and brilliant flavours. According to Mintel, the UK leads the charge with the highest proportion (15%) of European food and drink launches carrying a ‘no added sugar’ claim in the past five years.
Sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free – the free-from category is an ever-expanding segment that retailers would be remiss not to explore. Sales growth in the free-from foods market accelerated in 2020, with value sales rising by 16.8% year-on-year to break through the £1bn ceiling, according to Mintel’s UK Free-From Foods Market Report 2021.
With recent innovations ensuring that everything from dairy-free chocolate to gluten-free bread is good enough to tempt you back for more, there is no reason not to invest.
Fine food producers are looking to do more than create a great product these days. A firm focus on the environment is proving critical with conscious consumers, and new product launches which feature bold sustainability claims, such as reusing foods that are typically bound for the bin, cutting out plastic waste or using ingredients that are more eco-friendly are key for winning trust.
Government legislation that will ban certain marketing and advertising for food or drink that’s high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) is on the horizon, leading some producers to reformulate HFSS products. While this could be a costly option, with the market researcher IRI predicting a £30-75 million negative impact on sales, it is a much lower cost than doing nothing, which could cost manufacturers and retailers £192 million.
Plus, creating healthier versions of beloved snacks offers snack producers and retailers a chance to tap into the healthy eating trend. The global health and wellness snacks market is forecast to reach $98bn by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5.8% between 2020 and 2025, Euromonitor found.
It’s no longer enough to create a delicious tasting product with high health and sustainability credentials. Today, consumers are demanding planet-friendly packaging. Whether it’s compostable, recyclable or even in some cases edible, products that push the boundaries of sustainable packaging are guaranteed to gain favour with consumers.
To discover more of the latest trends in today’s snacking market, download Snack Buyer.