The forces fueling the healthy snack segment

by Rebekah Schouten
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Healthy snacks
The healthy snack segment is outpacing the entire food and beverage market in sales growth.

ROCKVILLE, MD. — The healthy snack segment is outpacing the entire food and beverage market in sales growth, according to a new report from Packaged Facts. The reason?

“Healthy-ingredient snacks offer the perfect convergence of many important modern food industry trends, and as a result, the segment is thriving,” the report said. “Portable? Check. Healthy? Check. Transparent labels and packaging? Check.”

Between 2011 and 2015, the healthy snack segment achieved a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7%. The growth skyrocketed in the past two years in particular, fueled by double-digit growth in the meat snack and trail mix categories in 2014 and growth in granola and snack bar sales in 2015. Packaged Facts projects the segment’s sales will continue to grow, achieving a CAGR of 5.7% in the next four years and reaching sales of $25.4 billion by 2020.

Allergen- and gluten-free snacks
Allergen- and gluten-free snacks are the most popular in the segment.

A key market driver, the report said, is the continued consumer demand for fewer ingredients and “free-from” products, especially the removal of allergens, gluten and bioengineered ingredients. Allergen- and gluten-free claims are the most popular in the segment. Other trends driving healthy snack growth include premiumization, innovative flavors, a shift toward bite-size and single-serve snacks and the ongoing trend toward healthier eating, Packaged Facts said.

In addition, retailers have been putting more force behind marketing private label healthy snacks. These chains are not only launching new products in the segment, Packaged Facts said, but they also are spending more money and effort advertising those products. For example, 7-Eleven last year introduced its 7-SelectGo!Smart brand of better-for-you options, including gourmet light popcorn, sprouted tortilla chips and yogurt bars. Aldi launched its Simple Nature line of all-natural and organic foods at the beginning of 2014 and continues to support and advertise the brand, which includes such offerings as fruit and nut bars, energy bars and fruit snacks.

Aldi Simply Nature snacks, 7-Eleven healthy snacks
7-Eleven last year introduced its 7-SelectGo!Smart brand of better-for-you options in 2015, and Aldi launched its Simple Nature line of all-natural and organic foods in 2014.
Beyond simply selling healthy snacks, the report said, retailers also are highlighting healthy snacking in general, providing more information and easier access to healthy snacks within their stores. In 2015, Wegmans began putting displays in its stores offering information on how to make quick and healthy at-home snacks using fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. The supermarket chain also constructed displays in prepared foods areas that point out healthful store brand snack options. 
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