Taste issues remain for healthier snacks

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Snack foods, Nutrition, Potato, Mintel

Opportunities remain in the market for healthier alternatives to traditional salty snacks, as new research shows that half of consumers don’t like the taste of healthier versions.

The market research organization Mintel has said that sales of salty snacks have skyrocketed during the recession – as many had predicted they would. Some analysts have speculated that this is because people tend to cut back on major luxuries while allowing themselves some smaller ‘treats’ when they feel financial pressure. However, as the global economic mood begins to brighten, Mintel said that sales of salty snacks such as potato chips are likely to taper.

It forecasts that potato chip sales will be up 22 percent this year compared to 2007 levels – but it predicts growth to shrink to just three percent a year for the next five years. Other salty snacks tell a similar story, with tortilla chip sales up 18 percent, cheese snacks up 20 percent, and popcorn 17 percent. Mintel predicts that sales growth for tortilla chips will also slow, to around four percent a year.

Healthy trend

Meanwhile, health has been widely touted as one of the biggest trends for the food and beverage industry, but taste is crucial to the success of healthy options.

Senior analyst at Mintel Chris Haack said: "Salty snacks are clearly embedded in American's style of eating and they're used by all ages as a way to curb off hunger between meals or after dinner.But at the same time, there is growing interest in healthier snack options."

Half of those under the age of 25 say they eat salty snacks at least five times a week, and adults eat them an average of 4.8 times per week, according to a Mintel survey. However, nearly two-thirds of adults (65 percent) said they were interested in eating healthier versions of these snacks, such as wholegrain or baked varieties, while 57 percent said they were interested in eating healthier alternatives to their regular salty snacks, such as pita breads or crackers. Nevertheless, half of the survey’s respondents said they thought that low sodium and low fat products don’t taste as good as less healthy versions.

Salty snacks are big business in the US, with over 350 new products launched in the category so far this year, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database.

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