Savory Snacks to Savor

Though competition for baked savory snacks such as crackers and pretzels remains strong, health concerns and the emergence of new flavors may underpin future growth. Opportunities within the snacking industry are considered higher than ever, with consumers in many parts of the world demanding a greater choice of products, satisfying criteria such as health and convenience.

The snacking category is expected to continue growing during the next few years, even though the predicted global economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 may adversely affect consumer spending. With the economic situation worsening, price is expected to become a more significant purchasing influence.

Over 90% of US consumers snack daily, with half of all adults snacking at least 2-3 times during an average day. Snacking in the US is especially prevalent amongst younger people – almost two-thirds (64%) of those aged 18-24 snack three or more times per day. Furthermore, the snacking trend has clearly eroded the habit of eating three main meals per day, since around half of all eating occasions in the US are now thought to be made up of either snacks or ‘mini-meals.’ Reasons for this include being hungry between meals, needing an energy boost, being too busy to eat a sit-down meal and boredom.

Similar eating patterns have been observed in Europe. According to a recent survey by KP Snacks, 63% of UK consumers snack at least once a day. Of these, 79% snack at home, 47% at work and 18% during on-the-go occasions. Although taste is the number one market driver, more snackers are now actively seeking out products in smaller-sized portions to help control their calorie intake, as well as healthier snacks – this trend is most apparent amongst younger adults and households with children.

THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19

In many western markets, sales of savory snacks have benefited from COVID-19 and its effects upon daily lifestyles. During these stressful times, consumers (at least in the early stages of lockdown) turned towards various forms of savory snacks to satisfy their desire for indulgent comfort foods or just an affordable treat. The inability to socialize outside the home has also boosted demand for snack foods consumed while watching films or television with family – it is now estimated that over 613 million people worldwide subscribe to video streaming services such as Netflix.

According to a YouGov survey of 9,000 US adults, 36% claimed to have increased the frequency with which they were snacking since COVID-19 impacted upon daily habits. This figure was higher for women than men (36% versus 31%) as well as amongst the younger age groups – for example, 45% of US consumers aged 18-24 have started snacking more within the last six months, a figure which decreases slightly to 44% for those aged 25-34. Similar trends were observed within the UK during the second quarter of 2020, with people turning to snacks for reasons such as comfort and indulgence. That said, consumers are still seeking out healthy options despite the stress engendered by COVID-19, possibly recognizing that sedentary indoor lifestyles need to be countered by dietary considerations. According to Kantar, 31% of UK snacking occasions were driven by health during the spring of 2020. Health considerations tend to diminish in significance as the day progresses, since they impacted upon 41% of snacking occasions in the morning, but only 25% in the evening.

You can read the rest of this article in the November/December Issue of European Baker & Biscuit magazine, which you can access by clicking here.

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