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Snack Expo|Healthy snacking trends for 2024

2024.04.19

Latest insights on snacking trends from Snack Expo show that more consumers are seeking healthier choices. Read about the 2024 healthy snacking trends to learn consumers’ top reasons for snacking and what’s most important to them in a snack.

 

Healthy snacking on the rise

 

More consumers are looking for healthier snack alternatives. 60% of global consumers say they’ve become more aware of mindful snacking (up 4 percentage points from the prior year), while 61% report they always look for healthier alternatives of snacks (up 7 percentage points). When asked why they are choosing better-for-you snacks, the number one answer in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia is “healthier lifestyle”.

 

2024 healthy snacking trends

 

As consumers’ priorities and snacking habits continue to evolve, brands that stay on top of these shifts will be well-positioned for success by delivering the most relevant snacks for today’s consumers. These are the top 2024 healthy snacking trends brands should know:

 

1. Natural = Healthy

 

In a snack, natural is closely aligned with healthfulness. No additives/preservatives (40%), no artificial ingredients (34%), and natural ingredients/clean label (33%) are the top attributes that make a healthy snack, according to consumers globally.

 

Natural even comes in slightly ahead of nutritional claims. 30% of consumers say no/low/reduced claims (e.g., for fat, sugar, and salt) make a snack healthy to them, and 30% consider high in/source of claims (e.g., for protein, fibre, and vitamins) to be attributes that make a snack healthy. While nutrition is key to making a snack truly healthy, a natural ingredient list is a must-have to be perceived as healthy.

 

High protein

 

Another major trend is snacks high in protein. In the US, Europe and Asia, consumers are having more protein snacks (such as bars, RTD shakes and shakes from powder) compared to the previous year. Among US consumers, the increased consumption of protein-fortified products rose across all age groups but was most prominent among 32-45 year-olds. Protein pancakes, breakfast cereals and RTD shakes were favoured by this group, highlighting the importance of protein for satiety and the morning meal.

 

Consumers have a positive health perception of snacks with protein compared to traditional snacks, which is supporting growth in these products. However, there is more opportunity for expansion. Our consumer research reveals the main barriers to expansion in protein bars, for example, are value, relevance, and taste. Even among regular protein snack users, “great tasting” is the most important attribute of a protein snack. Whey protein is the most preferred protein.

 

3. Healthy indulgence

 

When consumers reach for a snack, indulgence is nearly always a factor in their choice, even when healthy snacking is on their minds. This is why we’re seeing consumers globally snack the most on dairy products—specifically yoghurt (69%), dairy milk (63%) and cheese (60%)—which offer healthy nutrition along with indulgent taste and texture.

 

Though many still consume traditional indulgent snacks—including biscuits/cookies/brownies (66%), chips (64%) and sweets/chocolate (60%) —consumers in Europe, Asia, and the US all report they have cut back on these less healthy snacks. Formulating traditional sweet and savoury snack products with added protein and other benefits like fibre and vitamins can give consumers the best of both worlds. Likewise, manufacturers of healthy snacks like protein bars should focus on delivering an indulgent experience.

 

4. Diverse snacking occasions

 

Today’s consumers are snacking on a wide variety of occasions, depending on the need. For US consumers of protein bars, sweet protein snacks and savoury protein snacks, these consumer average 5.6 different snacking occasions, spanning exercising to relaxing.

 

The most popular snacking occasions for these protein snacks are before/after going to the gym, watching TV/playing video games and during a work or study break, showing how the use of protein has expanded beyond the gym. Consumers are choosing these snacks to meet a range of needs—from wanting something that tastes really good to morning energy to a meal substitute.

 

5. New formats

 

New formats are a trend adding excitement to the snack aisle. This includes bites, balls and other miniature versions of traditional snacks. Besides bringing an element of fun, these formats also offer portion control.

 

Consumer research points to opportunity in an even greater range of format options, particularly for healthy snacks. Among US protein bar users, for example, 54% would find protein cookies interesting, while 48% would be interested in protein brownies. Protein chips (43%) and protein pretzels (42%) also scored well among current protein bar users.

 

Delivering on health for snacking consumers

 

Snack Expo believes that with healthy snacking becoming more important to consumers, careful attention to nutrition and ingredients—without sacrificing the moment of indulgence consumers enjoy from a snack—will be essential to creating snacks that meet today’s needs.

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