Snacking reinvents itself

by Dan Malovany
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When it comes to new product innovation, look no further than the snack industry and how those companies respond to changing consumer trends. While conventional categories such as potato chips continue to hold their own, “other” forms of poppable, better-for-you snacks made with flax, quinoa, brown rice and other perceived healthful ingredients now flood the market. In fact, non-conventional snacks have become the fastest growing segments in this market.

That’s impressive, especially when a January report by Chicago-based Mintel predicted chips, popcorn, nuts and dips category to increase 31% during the next five years to reach sales of $28.6 billion, at current prices. Also fueling the industry’s growth are sales of nuts and trail mixes — expected to rise more than 60% by 2018.

Mintel noted nuts and trail mixes benefitted from positive perceptions related to health and nutrition. Likewise, snacks are found in new channels of distribution ranging from health clubs to hardware stores. And in the end, many consumers are just snacking more frequently. According to Mintel, 47% of Americans now consume snacks throughout the day and 35% buy more of them because they are snacking instead of eating regular meals.

No, snacking of conventional or “new age” snacks isn’t on the decline. Rather, it’s simply an industry that continues to reinvent itself.

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