CHICAGO — Variety and healthy alternatives are two of the most important trends driving the snack industry, said David Walsh, vice president of communications and membership at SNAC International.

Mr. Walsh presented “The State of Snacking” industry report on Monday, Oct. 24, at Pack Expo 2022. The annual show at McCormick Place in Chicago runs Oct. 23-26.

Hot flavors from home and abroad are driving consumer demand for variety.

“People want more and more heat,” Mr. Walsh explained. “In addition to the push for spicy, we are seeing the ‘globalization of flavors.’ Consumers nowadays have an interest in more international flavors, specifically those from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Also, nontraditional flavors — such as fruit, chocolate and nut butter, for example — are also redefining what people look for in snacks.”

Consumer demand for variety doesn’t simply affect new snacks. Potato chips and tortilla chips, for example, the top two snack categories respectively, are often considered “mature,” but they, too, are aided in their growth by new flavors, flavor combinations and heat.

Holistic eating is also a growing factor in how consumers approach their snacking.

“Consumers are concerned about their health,” Mr. Walsh said. “Personal health is important, of course, but people are also focused on sustainability, including packaging and the environment.”

Although cheese and corn snacks remain popular, protein has also seen an uptick in consumer interest. The meat snacks/jerky category jumped 21% over the last year, while pork rinds increased 4.7%.

The snacking industry as a whole shows no signs of slowing down, Mr. Walsh said. He noted that consumers currently snack an average of 2.7 times per day and highlighted IRI data that predicts $16 billion in macrosnack growth over the next five years.

More information on SNAC International, including membership and state of the industry reports, is available at