Snacks becoming a meal in their own right

Posted by Isobel Drake on 28th April 2009

No longer merely between-meal or after-school options, snacks have taken centre stage for American consumers.

Time-crunched consumers are turning to snacks as meal stand-ins, to fuel hectic lifestyles and stave off energy crashes. With snacks’ growing importance, consumers want big bang for their snacking buck: vivid flavour, quality ingredients and enhanced nutrition, according to the Snack Foods Culinary Trend Mapping Report from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts.

“Snacks are less and less the hunger-soothing bridge between formal meals. They have become valuable gastronomical events in their own right, especially as consumers demand more from their snacks,” CCD CEO, Kimberly Egan, noted.

Doing more with less

Meal-replacement snackers are increasingly craving varied and vibrant flavours from their snacks as well as punches of protein, fibre and vitamins that yield performance benefits. And manufacturers are responding with exciting new snacks that combine indulgence with health and higher quality ingredients.

Better-for-you snacks, such as Alternative Chips made from beets, sweet potatoes and cassava, offer indulgence fused with a perception of healthfulness. Generation Y snackers have discovered the umami hit of highly nutritious Seaweed Snacks, while parents delight in new sweets made with whole grains and other healthful ingredients.

New premium snacks, like Gastro Popcorn with flavours like Madras Curry, Black Truffle or Pimenton de la Vera, replicate creative nibbles found in trendy bars and restaurants. Swanky Pork Rinds illustrate the “real meat” trend and the more mainstream Nuts Gone Global captures the exotic flavours of global cuisines in canisters of crunchy, healthful nuts, according to the report.