In the snack industry as a ‘pleasure occasion’, does using an ingredient with a functional health claim create a significantly higher driver for consumer preference than using ingredients which consumer associate with inherent goodness anyway?
“It depends on your consumer. Imagine a fitness trainer who maintains a strict diet – a protein bar with a functional claim related to Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) or leucine and whey protein. They care a lot about the benefit and the claim when they’re looking for a snack.
“But, the soccer mom rushing around with her kids in the car probably cares more about something that is ‘naturally good’ like almonds, or a piece of fruit. So, you have to know your consumer. There is a market for nearly everything today.”
Ingredients like nuts, granola or spices – for example, turmeric – have a positive image of inherent goodness. As consumers look for health and wellness deliverables from snacks, do you see increasing opportunities for chilled snacks – for example, in the dairy case, cheese and yogurt?
“There is absolutely an opportunity for chilled snacks. One of the blockbuster hits in the US in the past few years is Sargento’s Balanced Breaks. They are a cheese-nut-fruit snack and are sold in the fridge.
“Yogurt is popular as a snack, and we’re seeing a lot more premium, indulgent yogurt hitting the shelves. Cheese is another great opportunity. It has natural appeal and is a good source of protein and calcium. Those benefits can balance out or outweigh concerns some may have about fat but many consumers aren’t as concerned as they used to be about fat. Chilled foods bring fresh appeal and that’s something consumers are looking for.”
How is the market for packaged fruit-based snacking? What value do sustainable credentials add to snack food?
“Growth in fruit-based snacks is outpacing fruit-flavoured snacks. And, if you look in nearly any supermarket in the produce section, there is a huge range of fresh fruit snacks. Dried fruit snacks have been around for the past 10 years, but you have to carefully consider the claims and think about how you address any potential discussion about sugar claims.
“A few years ago, sustainability claims were for a small group of consumers concerned about the environment, but it is now something that has to be considered. While it might not be a primary purchase driver for mainstream consumers, more and more consumers expect that companies are doing the right thing, and it can also help to reinforce an authentic positioning or add a premium through provenance.”