When it comes to snacking, consumers’ cups runneth over. A whopping 94% of Americans say they snack daily, according to market research firm Mintel, which also recently found that one-third of salty snackers consume snacks on the go to help alleviate stress.
The craving for snacks — whether eaten as a meal replacement, out of boredom or en route to another activity — combined with the demand for portability has spurred the growth of function-specific packaging for such products, including flexible stand-up pouches, cups and canisters.
Over the past few years, there has been notable growth in cup-style and canister packages designed for cup holders in cars, bikes and strollers as well as for easy take-along in backpacks and bags. In addition to snacks like Cheez-Its, which have long been in cup format, some newer products are rounding out the portable snack market. Earlier this year, Battle Creek, MI.-headquartered Kellogg Company introduced Kellogg’s To Go Breakfast Mix, a snack comprised of cereal and nut pieces meant to be eaten on the go without milk. The product is packaged in a resealable, single-serving pouch that was designed to fit into a car cup holder.Recently, Hickory Harvest Foods, Akron, OH, launched TakeAlong Cup packaging for some of its nut and snack products. The single-serve, resealable package, varying from 5 to 8 oz depending on the product, fits into most car cup holders.
In addition to salty snacks like crackers, chips, nuts and mixes, cup packaging lends itself to other types of snacks. In August, Sambazon of San Clemente, CA, rolled out Açaí Superfruit Snack Cups at Costco stores in California. The single-serving, 2.75-oz cups are sold in packages of six.
Meanwhile, the Veggie Chips brand from Lake Success, NY-based Hain Celestial offers a 5-oz canister of Stacked Garden Veggie Chips under its Sensible Portions umbrella. The chips are available in four different flavors and each package color reflects the flavor variety.
Packaging suppliers recognize the burgeoning interest in snacks that fit into cup holders and other mobile-based locations. Snacktops, Carlsbad, CA, offers food couplers that combine foods and beverages in one stand-up format as well as pre-sealed snack cups that can connect to drinks or stand alone.
Other packaging innovations are being driven by on the-go food and snack consumption. California-based Chef David SooHoo invented a patented container he dubbed the “Carbowl” based on what he felt was a need for a solution for eating foods like ramen and rice bowls in a car. “The container's shape is perfect for other noodles such as spaghetti and also soup, salad and ice cream. I also wanted a container that was cheap, nestable, easy to hold with one hand, fit in a car's cup holder, would not tip over like a tall cup — meaning it's safer for kids if they're eating hot food — -and would provide a better means to package food that can be messy, for which parents everywhere would be grateful,” explained Mr. SooHoo.