SNACKING HABITS & TRENDS
The definition of snacking has moved beyond just potato chips and is inclusive of many different segments. As a result, each person’s go-to snack is going to be as unique as they are. And this can be tied back to the variety of trends that are shaping the category and encouraging growth rates to climb.
Although the pandemic acutely brings physical health to top of mind for all, the anxiety and strain brought on by fears of the virus, isolation from friends and family, and adjusted work and school environments means that concerns around Canadians’ mental and emotional well-being are also of concern, with half of Canadians “stress snacking”.
The eternal battle between healthy and indulgent snacking still rages on and is reflected in the way Canadians snack. According to Mintel, 77% of Canadians had a salty snack (i.e., popcorn) in the last month while 73% had a produce snack (i.e. fruit, vegetable), reinforcing the complexity and variability within snacking.
There are several trends currently driving category growth in snacking, creating many more options for consumers:
Upcycled Food –This type of food involves converting ingredients that would have been wasted into edible food products, not only prolonging the life of discarded food but reducing the amount of food waste. From vegetable stems turned into chips and leftover juice pulp transformed into granola to surplus bread, upcycled food has a wide variety of flavour and texture profiles.
Protein – Keto is still at the top of the list of snack trends as consumers continue to be interested in clean eating and the relationship between diet, health, and wellness. Consumers expect high protein snacks to offer a nutrition boost to their daily diet.
Plant Based – Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic changed nearly every aspect of life — and our diet habits were no exception. With shortages of meat last year, consumers gave some of the interesting plant-based eating options a try for the first time with items like vegan jerky. Interest in plant-based foods is also popular as it is aligned with sustainability.
Permissible Indulgence – Permissible indulgence is the concept of indulging in unhealthy products with less guilt by having smaller portions or combining indulgent ingredients with healthier ones. The pandemic led many to seek out food and drinks to improve their mood. As a result, the need for permissible indulgence surged for diet conscious consumers who wanted to treat themselves without feeling too guilty.
Functionality – New snacks that broke into the market in recent months boast functional claims due to the demand for immunity boosting benefits as a preventative measure. Everything from ingredients such as turmeric, ginger and matcha, to vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and probiotics have been introduced to this category.
Natural and Healthier Oils – Even before COVID-19, consumers were seeking better–for-you chips. Now many snacks have been upgraded with things like small-batch positioning, different types of oils like avocado & coconut as well as ancient grains and other all-natural ingredients.
Family Size – With more people at home there has been a shift from on–the–go sizes to bigger family sizes – this has been the case in most categories including snacking.
Bottom line is that increased home time, family time, leisure screen time, stress and 24/7 access to our pantries have all translated into a rise in snacking, as Canadian consumers reach for healthy treats as well as comfort foods.
Source: Mintel Salty Snacks 2019
Source: Mintel Snacking Habits & Motivations 2020