From fresh fruits and raw nuts to processed bars and packaged chips, consumers’ demand for convenience and flavor as well as beneficial nutrients are fueling the latest healthy snack trends. Adults and children are snacking more often during the day, and replacing meals with snacks more than in years past, making healthy snack options more important than ever.
Convenience stores are selling more fresh produce alongside candy and chips, fresh produce marketers are boosting sales with convenience packaging and fruit and vegetable brands like Del Monte are seeing a sales boost as demand grows for healthy snacks.
Snack makers that displayed their newest products at the Summer Fancy Food Show in June often highlighted health aspects as much as taste, catering to the growing demand for better-for-you convenience foods. Consumers and retailers are looking for healthy snack options and less-processed choices, said Specialty Food Association Communications Director Louise Kramer.
Healthy snacks featured prominently among the Association’s annual Sofi Award winners, including Bellwether Farms Blackberry Sheep Milk Yogurt, Gluten Free Ginger Zinger Cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop and Kettle Pipcorn from Pipsnacks LLC.
Even indulgent goodies often took a healthier turn, including vegetable popsicles, gluten-free baked goods and cashew butter-based superfood snacks in squeezable pouches, and snacks that in the past wouldn’t have necessarily been seen as fitting into the healthy snack trend are increasingly highlighting the fact that they’ve always been gluten-free or vegan or high in protein.
Chips, often seen as the poster child for the typical salty, greasy indulgent snack, are taking on a healthier shine with as makers turn from frying to baking and trade traditional potatoes for other produce. Kale chips are growing in popularity and CJ Foods has launched a line of Annie Chun’s Seaweed Crisps that are marketed with the chips but are baked, gluten-free and free of cholesterol and trans fats.
As demand grows, healthy snack trends are also showing up in a wider range of categories, from baked goods and power bars to nuts and bar nibbles. Consumers’ craving for protein is still on the rise, according to recent reports from Packaged Facts and other outlets, fueling demand for everything from yogurt to plant-based protein sources like nuts and beans.
Cashews surfaced as the new almond, filling a demand for healthy nuts that cost less and take less water to produce. Other protein-packed nut- and bean-based snacks highlighted this year ranged from simple to indulgent, including:
- Chocolate Lavender Almonds from Q’s Nuts
- brynn&amie granolas from Brynn’s Good Karma Foods
- Caramel Apple Peanuts from The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg
- Baked Lentil Chips from The Mediterranean Snack Food Company
- Bean and Rice Chips from Beanfields
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