Snacking accounts for nearly half of all eating occasions in the United States – and healthier, more global ingredients are increasing in popularity, according to market research organization The Hartman Group.
In a live webinar on Thursday, “The Future of Snacking and the Influence of Global Flavors”, director of culinary insights at The Hartman Group, Melissa Abbott, told attendees that lines are blurring between snacking and traditional meals, and that this trend is likely to continue.
“The children of today are comfortable replacing entire meals with snacks…Snacking is viewed positively, almost necessary for optimal health, and less associated with the empty calories and treats of our youth,” she said.
Fresh, ‘real’, and global are leading flavor trends, and demand for less processed foods means naturally occurring fiber and protein, such as that in pulses, beans, nuts and seeds, is particularly appealing to consumers. These ingredients also work well with global tastes, and tend to carry a healthy ‘halo’, Abbott said.
The concept of ‘global’ or ‘ethnic’ food is also changing, as the food environment becomes increasingly globalized, and Millennials in particular are beginning to see these foods as part of a range of everyday options. Current up-and-coming global snack flavors include nori, kimchi, blackcurrant, cardamom, cumin and furikake, according to the researcher.
Portion control – not about weight control
Smaller snack portions are no longer simply about weight management – such as 100-calorie snack packs – according to Abbott, as companies are seeing added value in slimming down product size.
“Smaller is a conscious reaction to the American maxim that bigger is always better,” she said. “It is a rejection of excess.”
Large companies are getting on board with this idea too. Kraft recently launched five-stick packs of Trident gum, priced at 50 cents, and Mars has said it intends to make all of its candy bars with a maximum of 250 calories.