Snacking for Good Health

March 4, 2018

Snacking continues to rise around the globe, with more and more consumers turning to snacks as a way to fuel their busy lives and stand in as on-the-go meals. While that fact may conjure images of consumers reaching for candy bars, potato chips and crackers, the reality is that today’s most popular global snack categories are a lot healthier—with the top three including fruit, nuts and seeds, according to research firm GlobalData. At the same time, a recent report from analytics firm IRI Worldwide revealed that 60 percent of consumers want snacks that deliver health benefits beyond basic nutrition. In response, the world of prepared snack foods is beginning to change its approach to offer a more balanced take on healthy and indulgent.

In keeping with consumers’ interest in snacks that include fruit, nuts and seeds, drugstore chain CVS has taken a lead in transforming the snack aisle with its Gold Emblem Abound® line. The private brand line includes more than 40 wholesome snack options, including fruit and veggie snack bars, fruit and nut trail mixes, dried fruit “chips” and more. National brand KIND has made similar moves in recent years to expand its classic line of nut-based snack bars to include offerings such as fruit and veggie snacks, fruit and chia seed bars, and pressed fruit bites for children.

Other healthy ingredients manufacturers are tapping for their “supercharged” snacks include kale, spirulina, chickpeas, quinoa and boabab. These plant-based ingredients are high in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, low in fat and often lend themselves well to crispy, crunchy, savory and sweet applications alike. For example, Trader Joe’s has built a cult following with private brand snacks like kale chips, ranch-seasoned crispy chickpeas and bite-sized crisp rice treats with quinoa and cranberries.

For retailers and brands looking to make the foray into healthier snacking, one of the simplest places to start is by creating a cleaner label for existing snacks. This often means removing things like artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. That’s the approach Northeast retailer Wegman’s has taken with its Food You Feel Good About® private brand items, which includes snacks ranging from chocolate-covered nuts, to frozen novelties, to chips and more. National brand Frito-Lay has a taken a similar approach with its SIMPLY line—versions of its popular snacks like Doritos, Cheetos and Tostitos made without artificial colors or flavors (some varieties are even organic).

With a growing number of consumers looking to food as a source of health and wellness, the healthy snacking trend shows no sign of slowing. Retailers and brands would be well-served to continue looking for ways to marry good nutrition with great taste, creating products consumers crave—and can feel good about.