Label claims such as gluten-free, organic, non-GMO and vegan are driving sales of snacks. Adrienne Smith, senior food business reporter at New Hope Network, talked about the trend during a presentation at Expo West Virtual Week in May.

“Truly clean snacks are becoming a reality with one- and two-ingredient guilt-free options,” Ms. Smith said.

Rind Snacks, New York, are a zero-waste one-ingredient option that use fresh, overripe and rescued fruit to make chewy fruit snacks that include the fruit’s rind. And the company just launched a crunchy fruit snack made from apples, oranges and kiwi and are marketing them as an alternative to chips.

“Consumers can feel good about finishing a bag,” said Matt Weiss, founder and chief executive officer at Rind. “Chips are dried, not fried. You’re getting a ton of fiber and vitamin C benefits naturally. And the products really hold up well as a standalone snack but are also extremely versatile as a means of dipping in hummus, guacamole, dessert spreads, you name it.”

Simple Mills, Chicago, which makes cookies, crackers and bars with real-food ingredients and nothing artificial, is among the BFY brands attracting more buyers because consumers are interested in clean label foods, said Jamie Rubinstein, Simple Mills brand manager.

The company recently launched its Organic Seed Flour Cracker, which is made with a sunflower, pumpkin and flax seed flour blend.

“The trend of alternative flour continues to grow,” Ms. Rubinstein said. “We see great opportunity in alternative flours, as they provide unique nutritional and taste benefits and appeal to those who are looking for alternatives to products made with wheat flour.”

Although alternative ingredient snack buying is still gaining ground, 77% of consumers are interested in trying one, according to Mintel’s executive summary of the company’s “Trending Flavors and Ingredients in Snacks” report released earlier this year.

“Ingredients such as cauliflower, beans and legumes that can be replicated in typical snack textures have been featured in recent innovation in the form of chips, crackers and puffs, some of the most popular snack varieties. Alternative ingredient innovation does not have to be an all-or-nothing approach — mixing in seeds and vegetables that provide micronutrients or reduce sugar, carbs or overall calories are opportunities to balance the healthy with the fun side of snacking,” the report said.

Scott Carpenter, president and chief executive officer for Savor Street Foods Inc., which makes pretzels that are non-GMO, grain-, nut- and soy-free, said he expects plant-based ingredient trends using herbs, mushrooms and root vegetables will continue to influence savory products.

The companies making BFY snacks and those filling a dietary need like gluten-free understand the importance of pleasing everyone in the household.

“Products need to taste great and meet the needs of the whole family, not just the one family member with dietary restrictions,” said Junea Rocha, co-founder and chief marketing officer for Brazi Bites, Portland, Ore., which sells frozen Latin-inspired products that are gluten-free. “Post-COVID we are seeing many retailers looking to reduce assortment in stores, and that trend means products that are on the shelf will need to move at a higher velocity to maintain their space. Products that have broader appeal tend to do better under these conditions.”

Consumers interested in clean label, BFY products have more choices than ever, and snack makers are interested in creating products that taste great and fulfill dietary needs on several levels.

“There are some fantastic BFY snacks out there, and I think consumers now are becoming less cynical of truly BFY snacks,” said Joe Ens, co-chief executive officer of HighKey, which makes low-sugar cookies and confections. “Consumers are changing how they eat. I think that’s an encouraging post-pandemic reality because the pandemic has reminded us that we have to watch what we eat.”

This article is an excerpt from the July 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Snacks, click here.