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Markets: Pretzels and Extruded Snacks

The pretzel is one of the world’s fastest growing snack – raking in billions of dollars in sales a year. A pretzel as we know it is baked bread that’s traditionally shaped into a twisted knot, resembling a delicate ribbon. These days, pretzels come in a range of shapes. 

Germany has been most associated with the pretzel throughout history. Baked originally as soft bread, pretzels have had a strong religious influence. Their popularity spread across Europe in the Middle Ages as a treat handed out to young students by monks. Made of a simple mixture of water, flour and salt, this humble snack was consumed during Lent– distributed to the poor by the Catholic Church. 

German immigrants are believed to have brought the pretzel to the U.S., and the first commercial bakery was set up in Pennsylvania in 1861 – the birthplace of hard pretzels. Pretzels get their sheen and texture after being dipped in mild lye solution before baking – for a reaction that turns the flour brown. 

These crispy, brittle pretzels grew to become even more popular – treasured for their longer shelf life. In 1947, pretzels started being made by fully automated production lines. 

Pennsylvania remains to this day the biggest producer of pretzels, contributing to 80% of total production in the US. 

Salt is characteristically the seasoning to use. Other ingredients include cheese, seeds, nuts, spice, chocolate and fruit like banana. There’s even honey mustard, bacon and cheddar and peanut butter flavored pretzels.

Taste, pleasure and nutrition are powering snack development with savory inclusions such as chia seeds, quinoa and crisped rice. Grocery aisles are stocked with healthier savory snacks in localized flavors that are fast outpacing traditional deep-fried and extruded snacks. 

Sustainability has become a core criteria. Last year’s Sustainable Market Share Index reported that products carrying a sustainability claim had gained momentum, capturing 16% of the market across all CPG categories, up from 14% in 2015. Healthy snacking is likely to drive the demand for pretzels, a healthier alternative. According to Global Data, the Asia Pacific savory snack market, led by China and India, accounts for 39.3% of the global market in terms of value and is expected to grow at 7.1% CAGR by 2023 to USD73.9bn. The region’s growth is fuelled by rising income levels and health awareness trends. 

According to a recent report by Mordor Intelligence, the global pretzel market is projected to grow with CAGR of 2.7% during the forecasted period (2022 – 2027).

Consumers turned to indulgent foods to help get them through the upheaval caused by COVID-19. As the virus continued to spread, more and more people have been asked to remain in their homes unless absolutely necessary. In March, consumers bought approximately 50% more salty snacks than they did during the same period of the previous year. However, as consumers were forced to stay indoors, snacking became a common habit, mostly among the adult and younger population.

Pretzels are often considered a healthier snack alternative compared to some other salty snacks, so select better-for-you strategies resonate with shoppers.

You can read the rest of this article in the Spring Issue of Asia Pacific Baker & Biscuit magazine, which you can access by clicking here

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