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Snacking trends signal packaging opportunities?

Food channel releases Top 10 Snack Trend Report

Pw 3361 Websnacks
Kay Logsdon, editor-in-chief of The Food Channel, says these trends ”… show how people are eating today, with smoothies and energy bars functioning as meal replacements, and grazing with small bites throughout the day -- sometimes never even sitting down to a meal."

The report, found on Convenience Store Newsl, was put together in cooperation with CultureWaves, Mintel International and the International Food Futurists.

According to The Food Channel, the top snack trends are:

Chip and dip 2.0. New varieties and flavors are giving consumers something different. It's likely to find hummus and falafel chips or pretzel crisps at the next party instead of the traditional chip-and-dip duo. The dips are healthier, spicier and often served hot.

Small and sensational. Consumers are eating more substantial snacks packed with protein as meal replacements, and eating them more often.

The drink shift. This trend is all about the "halo of health" around drinks made with fruit or antioxidants. There is a shift in snack beverages away from colas and energy drinks and more toward teas, lemonades, fruity organic waters and carbonated fruit drinks with interesting flavor combinations. Plus, there's the trend away from high-fructose corn syrup and back to sugar that some soft-drink makers are spinning as a "throwback" move.

Goin' nuts. Snacking habits are adjusting to the talk about how good nuts are for health, with nuts and granola, nuts and fruits and smoked nuts growing more popular. Unique flavor combinations give consumers the feeling they are eating healthy: for example, cashews with pomegranate and vanilla, or dark chocolate with caramelized black walnuts.

Fruits: the low-hanging snack. The trend here is the mainstreaming of new types of fruit, and the redefinition of locally grown to mean locally sourced. Fresh fruit is now the No. 1 snack among kids aged two to 17.

Cruising the bars. While it's become mainstream that a granola bar is an acceptable emergency meal, bars are now offered in dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, soy-free, cholesterol-free, trans-fat-free and casein-free varieties. There are even versions specifically formulated for women and children.

Sweet and salty. Until recent years, the only way sweet and salty snacks mixed was when people ate something sweet and then craved something salty, or vice-versa. That barrier is now removed, with consumers dipping pretzels in Nutella and eating fruit with a side of popcorn. These tastes are filling up the new-style vending machines too, where the choices are increasing and more nutritional information is available.

Yogurt, redefined. The new gold standard for yogurt is the increased health value found with probiotics. Acknowledging the trend toward global flavors, there is Greek yogurt, among the healthiest snacks one can eat. Icelandic yogurt is starting to emerge as yet another world player and new self-serve frozen yogurt shops are popping up everywhere too. Although not new, yogurt continues to redefine itself and is definitely trending up.

Bodaciously bold. Bold flavors are almost becoming regular, satisfying an urge for something unordinary. One example is Doritos First-, Second- and Third-Degree Burn.

I’m not positive any of these trends are new, more a continuation of what we have been seeing for some time now. The question remains, are some of these alternatives really healthy, and can consumers read the labels, list of ingredients and serving size to determine that?

As we have seen, some companies are using “healthier lifestyle” marketing when the products really don’t deliver.

I think one thing missing here is portion control packs. Even when a relatively unhealthy snack is being consumed (chips, cookies, etc.) it is nice to know you are only consuming 100 calories, say.

I can attest to some of these trends at my house. We are eating fewer big meals, snacking more (fruits and nuts) and seem to have a craving for bolder flavors. We really count on the package labeling to communicate serving size and calorie count to aid in best choices.

To get your daily does of global packaging trends, follow me on Twitter.

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