David Walsh
David Walsh, vice-president, membership and communications, SNAC International, presents on the state of the snack industry at Pack Expo Las Vegas. 

LAS VEGAS — The world of snacking is constantly changing and officials from SNAC International explained to a crowd at Pack Expo Las Vegas, being held Sept. 25-27, how those changes are affecting the industry.

In one word, the changes have produced growth. The snack industry is seeing consistent annual growth said David Walsh, vice-president, membership and communications, SNAC International, at a rate of about 3%. Some of the key drivers of this growth are better-for-you, clean label and protein snacks. Consumers are looking for snacks that not only taste good, he said, but that also pack a nutritional punch.

“It’s not just millennials leading this trend either,” Mr. Walsh said. “Baby boomers and other older generations are also more likely to seek better-for-you snacks.”

Mr. Walsh told a large crowd at the Innovation Stages at Pack Expo that consumers are looking for key words on their snack packaging. But, rather than looking for what’s in the product, they are looking for what’s being left out. He said packages and product with claims such as low-sodium, sugar-free, non-G.M.O., gluten-free and others are succeeding in today’s market. He presented I.R.I. data that showed 60% of snack consumers want snacks to deliver nutritional needs above and beyond satisfying a craving or providing satiety.

"Communicating these benefits is winning,” Mr. Walsh said. “And packaging is really being used as a vehicle to communicate freshness and transparency with consumers.”

Elizabeth Avery, president and c.e.o., SNAC International, discussed the government affairs affecting the snack industry and more specifically the packaging of snacks. She said the recent extension of the Nutrition Facts Panel regulations will significantly help companies in implementing the required changes. While no official date has been set, Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, announced recently via Twitter that a new deadline of January 2020 — 18 months from now — is “likely.”

Ms. Avery said SNAC International also is pushing to have the Bioengineered Food Disclosure regulations align with the Nutrition Facts Panel timeline so food producers don’t have to change their package labels twice in the next two years. The Bioengineered Food Disclosure requires that all G.M.O. foods be identified on labels. She said government officials are still drafting the rules for these regulations and that SNAC is working with food companies and lawmakers to ensure the best decision is made and that ample time is given to manufacturers.

“Our commitment is to let science lead the way in creating these rules and the regulations will follow,” Ms. Avery said