DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS — Nuts and seeds accounted for more than 37% of global snack foods launches in 2013, according to the market research firm Innova Market Insights. Nuts’ share within the snack category has grown from just over 32% five years ago to 36% in the most recent 12-month period.

“The packaged snack nuts market has seen mixed fortunes in recent years,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation with Innova Market Insights. “With some difficult times in the market for standard salted peanuts and other commodity-style lines, but rising interest in value-added products, such as natural, flavored and premium lines, and branding.

“Exotic nuts, such as Brazils, macadamias, pistachios and pecans, are increasingly being used to add value and interest in the market while nut mixes have moved into whole new areas in terms of ingredients and away from their traditional reliance on seasonal sales.”

The share of nuts in the snack foods category varies markedly from country to country, according to Innova. There are particularly high shares in such European markets as Spain, France and Germany, where nuts traditionally are eaten as a snack. Lower shares occur where there is a traditional dominance of potato chips, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States.

This trend is consistent in terms of product activity, with Western Europe seeing the highest penetration of nuts, equivalent to 40% of total snacks introductions. The United States has a more modest 32%, which is well behind the global average.

Health has been a driver in the market. Interest in the health attributes of nuts resulted in one-third of global launches in 2013 being positioned on a health platform of some kind, rising to over 60% in the United States. Natural was also an area of interest and led in terms of claims. Nut launches marketed as one or more of organic, natural or additive-, preservative-free featuring in nearly 19% of total launches, while fiber, protein and low sodium claims were also popular, used on approximately 6%, over 4% and just under 3% of launches, respectively.

“While innovation opportunities have traditionally seemed more limited in nuts than in some other sectors of the snacks market, it would appear that this may no longer be the case,” Ms. Williams said. “Technological improvements have allowed the development of much more complex and sophisticated flavors and coatings and a range of more user-friendly packaging formats, including re-sealable cardboard cans, plastic and aluminum pouches, and plastic jars, as well as the more traditional flow-wrapped bags.”