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More snacking, more convenience

In this busy day and age, consumers are increasingly demanding for convenience. Cereals and bars for breakfast, practical servings and small packages for lunchboxes and on-the-go snacking, simple preparation and mixes for quick meals or meal replacements. And much more has been developed to cater to this lifestyle.

 

Global snack food sales topped US$374 billion in 2014 according to a report by market research expert Nielsen. Europe and North America led with the majority of sales, followed by Asia Pacific and Latin America. The Nielsen Global Survey of Snacking which polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries revealed that taste, texture and health considerations were consumers' major concerns when choosing snacks.

 

Different markets, different preferences

The largest share of snacks sales in Europe and MEA [Middle East/Africa] was in confectionery products such as chocolate, hard candy and chewing gum. However, one-fifth of sales in North America were in savory snacks; refrigerated snacks reached almost one-third of sales in Asia Pacific, and cakes and biscuits made up more than one-fourth of sales in Latin America. In Latin America, the fastest growth was achieved in the savory snacks segment including crackers, rice cakes and chips. Savory snacks perceived as meal replacements also show strong growth potential as consumers focus on health concerns.

The Nielsen survey [www.nielsen.com] showed that 76% of consumers choose snacks often or occasionally between meals or to satisfy a craving, whereas 45% consume snacks as meal alternatives: 52% for breakfast, 43% for lunch and 40% for dinner. Busy lifestyles lead to quick meals, so snacks including healthy yet convenient options hold great opportunities for manufacturers of suitable products.

 

Variety and healthy options

The range of snacks consumed over a longer period of time almost invariably includes a wide variety of choices such as biscuits and cakes, sandwiches, crackers, chips and crisps, nuts and seeds, cereals and other offerings.

The consumer preferences monitored by Nielsen also showed trends towards all natural ingredients and demand for products without artificial colors and flavours, GMOs, and caffeine. Gluten-free snacks were popular, as well as products low in sugar, salt, fat, calories and carbohydrates. Products containing beneficial ingredients such as fiber, protein and whole grains were also well received.

 

Snacks take bigger share

Cakes, biscuits, pastries and more: At last year's iba, the world's leading trade fair for bakery, confectionery and snacks, snacking themes were noticeably prominent. The new 2015 'SnackTrendS' exhibition during the iba showed the wide range and potential of this industry. Alongside various consultation sessions the trade fair also offered workshops as well as live demonstrations, for example with new concepts for breakfast snacks and pastries.

A comprehensive overview of the spectrum of snack topics was condensed in a new 'SnackGuide', providing trade visitors with a list of companies specialising in snacks, from frozen products, fine foods, fresh snacks and warm dishes to technology, packaging, ovens and much more.

 

Snacking patterns

SNAXPO 2016 exhibition attendees were encouraged to examine snacking patterns more closely. Whereas a typical breakfast may be healthy and fulfilling, convenience and portability are reported to increasingly influence the choice of products selected as a person's day unfolds. While meals need to be suitable for consumption at desks during office hours or when commuting, at home and after a strenuous day, consumers are also likely to choose something convenient and easy to prepare.

 

Bakery products lead snacking trends

The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA), USA, recently revealed that the bakery market is expected to experience massive growth in the coming years, listing portioned snack products such as single cake slices, parfaits, buns and cake pops. Finally, ingredients such as quinoa and amaranth are gaining ground, making the variety of available snacks more appealing than ever before.