Snacking has become popular because it is flexible and easy. Meal preparation has sped up and meals are getting simpler — developments that are conducive for snacks to gain additional ground, said Tom Vierhile, innovations insights director, Datamonitor Consumer.

“The snack market is also remarkably malleable and open to new concepts and ideas that stretch the concept of what a snack is,” he told Baking & Snack recently. “While we associate snacks with popular foods like potato chips and popcorn, we have recently seen a boom in applesauce-like pureed fruit snacks that don’t fit neatly into the traditional snack categories. And that is the beauty of the market — the ability to adapt and come up with new snack forms to hit whatever is trending at the moment.”

As far as the state of the industry, snacks are doing well. Datamonitor Consumer noted “savory snacks” — including potato chips and other conventional snacks — are projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 2.8% for the five-year period from 2013 to 2017. However, many categories should grow faster than that.

Mr. Vierhile pointed out that pretzels, meat snacks, popcorn, and nuts and seeds should all have compound annual growth rates exceeding 3.3% during this period. Let the good times roll for the snack industry.