DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS — New product introductions in the global snacks category are on the rise despite current economic conditions, and gluten-free products are becoming a larger percentage of the introductions, according to Innova Market Insights.

Innova recorded double-digit increases in the number of launches in this category during 2011. Savory and salty snacks represented two-thirds of the total with snack nuts and seeds representing the other third.

Asia and Latin America saw the biggest increase in snack launches during the year with lower launch levels recorded in more developed markets such as the United States. Asia represented 40% of total snacks introductions with Europe representing 30%.

Lu Ann Williams, research manager, said despite increased competition from other snacks, savory snacks and nuts are holding their own through an emphasis on authenticity, originality, strong and exotic flavors, and more convenient packaging. Additionally, nearly 40% of launches had a health positioning of some kind, usually in reference to whole grains, organic, gluten-free or low and light. There were also active benefit claims such as vitamin and mineral fortification, omega-3 fatty acids and bone health.

Gluten-free offerings now represent nearly 10% of global snack launches and represent 20% of launches in the United States.