Consumers are looking for increased variety at snack time, and that is affecting cracker producers.

Consumers see crackers as an easy and healthy snack. The latest research from Mintel shows that close to two-thirds of buyers give this product a healthy halo, and that’s where opportunity for growth lies. With 92% of American households purchasing crackers, competition is fierce for those limited dollars.

“Processors are challenged to create crackers that offer differentiation in a saturated market,” said Gilles Maller, vice-president, sales and international, Clextral. “To reach these goals, they are using new ingredients to create attractive flavor profiles and new shapes and textures.”

Twenty-five per cent of consumers would like more seeds or nuts in crackers, according to Mintel’s “Power to the Plants” 2017 food and drink trends report. The research firm noted that product launches with vegetable, nut and herbal ingredients rose 13%, 9% and 13%, respectively, from 2011 to 2015.

While these new ingredients may help crackers catch consumer attention off the shelf, they create new challenges in production. As producers look to stay competitive, they need flexible production lines that can handle new ingredients and still turn out consistent, quality products.