Global trends in savoury snacks market

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 13th March 2012

Interest in ‘clean-label’ natural and additive-/preservative-free snack products, as well as the popularity of gluten-free snack products,  is rising globally, according to latest figures released by Innova Market Insights. 

According to Innova, over 22 per cent of snacks products launched during 2011 were marketed as being either a natural or an additive / preservative-free. This compares with 16 per cent five years previously.

The rise of gluten-free products has also been fairly dramatic, with the number of gluten-free launches internationally having trebled over the past five years. Nearly 10 per cent of global snacks launched  being marketed as gluten-free during 2011.

Innova Market Insights’ Research Manager, Lu Ann Williams, said that the snacks market benefits from the fact that many basic snacks ingredients, such as potatoes, corn and soya, are naturally gluten-free, so it is a claim relatively easy to achieve in many instances.

However, according to Innova, a wide range of more unusual ingredients were also used to replace wheat in gluten-free snacks in 2011, including cassava, sweet potatoes, brown rice and black beans.

Ms Williams said, “Despite ongoing economic difficulties, new product activity in the global snack foods industry appears to be continuing unabated, with launch numbers showing a strong double-digit increase in 2011.

“Savoury and salty snacks accounted for just under two-thirds of the total, and snack nuts and seeds the remainder.”

Innova’s figures show that Asia and Latin American saw the biggest increases in snacks launch numbers over the year, with high levels in these relatively underdeveloped regions disguising lower levels of growth in more mature markets, particularly the USA, but also parts of Western Europe.

Snack product launches in Asia accounted for nearly 40 per cent of total snack product launches, ahead of Europe with just under 30 per cent.  Within Europe, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands had some of the highest levels of product activity, reflecting relatively high per capita consumption levels in these countries.

Ms Williams said that there is often a fairly low level of consumer interest in health with purchasing decisions for impulse products such as snacks. Nevertheless, nearly 40 per cent of launches in 2011 had a health positioning of some kind, mainly with regard to passive benefits, such as wholegrain, organic, gluten-free or low and light.