Healthy snacks struggle in a global market

by Pinar Hosafci, Euromonitor International
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According to Euromonitor International’s latest figures, global value sales of health and wellness sweet and savory snacks accounted for 21% of total value sales of sweet and savory snacks in 2013. Excluding nuts and fruit snacks, which are by definition naturally healthy, this figure drops to just over 3%. More surprisingly, health and wellness sweet and savory snacks’ share has been decreasing over the last five years, and future prospects do not look bright either. However, an increasing number of the latest product launches within snacks are on a health platform of some kind.

Following its launch of Walkers Baked, which contains 70% less saturated fat than standard chips and crisps, the snack master PepsiCo, Purchase, NY, is now testing the waters with Sunbites in the UK, which claims to meet one-third of consumers’ daily whole grain needs. Meanwhile, last year, General Mills, Minneapolis, entered the US sweet and savory snacks market with the introduction of Green Giant Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips, boasting a whole grain claim through the use of ancient ingredients, including buckwheat and amaranth. Despite these launches, health and wellness snacks still remain niche on a global scale. Why is that?

Emerging markets want indulgence

One of the primary reasons why health and wellness snacks are not performing as well as expected or hoped for is the fact that, with the exception of nuts and fruit snacks, such products are completely absent from the fastest-growing regions in the world. Although Asia Pacific ranks second globally in terms of consumption of sweet and savory snacks excluding nuts and fruit snacks, with a CAGR of 4% expected over the forecast period, consumption of healthy snacks excluding nuts and fruit snacks is almost non-existent in the region. Similarly, in the Middle East and Africa, the region with the highest forecast period value growth, the healthy snack category is limited to nuts and fruit snacks. It looks like North America and Western Europe are the only regions where healthy snacks might have a future.

Cost concerns

Health and wellness products are generally more expensive than their standard counterparts. Sweet and savory snacks are no exception. Both within Western Europe and North America, consumers pay more for healthy snacks, albeit to different degrees. In North America, health and wellness sweet and savory snacks cost some 20% more than standard sweet and savory snacks, while in Western Europe, prices of healthy and standard products are similar. This might be due to the fact that the North American market is dominated by organic snacks, which are considerably more expensive than non-organic ones, while in Western Europe, consumption is led by better-for-you snacks, which are much closer in price to standard snacks. Moreover, the price gap between standard and health and wellness snacks is expected to widen in North America, whereas the opposite trend is expected in Western Europe. This is alarming news for the North American market where volumes of health and wellness sweet and savory snacks excluding nuts and fruit snacks are expected to shrink, which is in contrast to Western Europe, where volumes are on the rise, pointing to the fact that snack consumers are indeed price conscious.

Indulgence or health?

Unlike most dairy and bakery products, sweet and savory snacks do not lend themselves easily to health and wellness trends. Perhaps this is not so surprising as snacking is, above all else, about indulgence. Consumers might be prepared to compromise on taste for their breakfast and dinner, but they are less calorie-conscious when nibbling between meals, socializing or having a break from work, when snacks are most commonly consumed. The majority of consumers are also not prepared to pay a higher price for something that is perceived as poor in terms of taste and flavor. Companies may, therefore, need to rethink when introducing healthier snacks. Ingredient-based innovation or investment in 100-Calorie packs may have higher returns than marketing off the back of health claims.

For further insight, please contact Pinar Hosafci, Food Analyst at Euromonitor International, at pinar.hosafci@euromonitor.com.

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