Rising food prices in the United States have not killed the habit of enjoying a snack between meals. It’s just that consumers are now more interested in healthy snacks.
People are still buying indulgent snacks at retail despite the inflation in mid-2022.
According to market research specialist IRI, sales of these products increased 12% last year. This trend might continue in 2023.
That percentage is equivalent to $11.6 billion in convenience stores alone. Adding the other establishments, the increase recorded was 11.5%, which equals $58.7 billion.
The most sought-after by users in this period were savory snacks, whose sales reached $7 billion. Those made with meat and jerky accounted for $2.2 billion in sales.
Preferences for Healthy Snacks
According to the consulting firm 210 Analytics, the sustainability of snack spending is mainly due to healthy snacks.
The food industry is increasingly betting on sustainable products. For this reason, innovative snack foods that guarantee good health are available in the market.
Such is the case with herbal, gluten-free, or high-protein snacks.
Although manufacturers and retailers have yet to be able to promote them as they used to before the COVID-19 pandemic, their prices are still acceptable.
Some people try hard to keep them within consumers’ budgets to remain inside the shopping cart.
One of the things expected to benefit the industry in 2023 is the desire for innovation and a healthier lifestyle.
The return to work and school after almost two years of health restrictions has caused many people to resume some habits.
For example, people make small meals to recover energy, which has increased the demand for healthy snacks.
In addition to this, schools are asking for individually wrapped items to be shared.
This would contribute to buyers purchasing these products instead of bakery products, such as cookies and cakes. The reason? They are easily found in the aisles and have individual packages.
According to 210 Analytics, this is an excellent growth opportunity for retail businesses.
Consumers also buy more cold snacks because they can eat them later.
Technomic believes retailers may be encouraging this trend to boost sales.
Innovation and Variety of Flavors
Over time, the food industry has produced healthy snacks with various flavors, textures, and novel designs.
This has allowed it to maintain sales for a limited period.
Although the launches were not considered at the pandemic’s beginning, they have regained attention since last year.
Some famous brands are creating new sensations for the palate and adding ingredients influenced by different nations to their products.
They include mushroom jerky, sweet potatoes, dehydrated mango, legumes, and taro morsels, among other food components. They even employ unusual combinations.
According to 210 Analytics, more fun and unexpected flavors will likely emerge in 2023.
Manufacturers would also plan to drive impulse purchases through limited releases. Health remains the focus.
Innovations in packaging size and shape are also expected, with more of a mix of appealing flavors.
The idea is to reach the younger demographic, which typically enjoys these products most.
Related Article: Hot and Cold: Two Methods for Developing Healthy Snacks
Affordability of Snacks
Given these projections, the question arises as to the cost of snacks. According to food service consulting firms IRI and 210 Analytics, they are only partially affordable.
At the end of last December, their prices shot up 12.6%. According to Numerator’s monthly consumer sentiment survey, there is growing concern about inflation.
Thirty percent are thinking of cutting back on snack purchases for that reason.
However, they still find plenty of choices in stores.
The variety of package sizes means that prices vary, and shoppers can take the ones that fit their budget.
For some, therefore, they remain affordable compared to other products.
Still, the pollster believes that people will keep this habit, although they have shown that they can buy only the basics in times of inflation.
Growth Associated With Health
Despite many buyers feeling vulnerable because of costs, analysts are optimistic about the future of this market.
In their view, health-related innovations will drive the expansion of the sustainable snack category.
The annual growth rate of low-sodium and low-sugar snacks is estimated to be 6.5% between now and 2029.
According to Meticulous Research, in monetary terms, that represents approximately $152 billion by that year.
Meticulous Research argues that what’s driving the market growth is general wellness awareness.
People know that consuming sustainable products goes hand in hand with good health. Today, they are seeing numerous options, for example, plant-based chips with added protein and free of sugar or gluten. There are also organic meat snacks.
Millennials are most interested in seeking out these types of snacks. Perhaps because they grew up seeing those labels on packaging.
However, shoppers spend more money buying traditional salty snacks when shopping.
Healthy snacks are trendy but not what most want to take home. That’s not to say they don’t value them. They are gaining more acceptance every day.