Trendsetters and the Top 6 Trends that will shape the snacks scene in 2021

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The pandemic has had a definite impact on consumers snacking. Pic: ADM
The pandemic has had a definite impact on consumers snacking. Pic: ADM

Related tags: Functional foods, Sustainability, Breastfeeding, Collagen, seeds, teff, Gut microbiome, Fibre, plant-based, Transparency

Ingredients provider ADM has forecast the Top 5 Global Trends that will transform the way consumers snack in the new year, while viennoiserie supplier Délifrance delves into the indulgent sphere.

According to indepth research from ADM’s proprietary OutsideVoice consumer insights platform, each of the trends is strongly influenced by behavioural and societal changes that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic, including heightened feelings of anxiety and stress, shifting priorities, changes in social connectivity and the adoption of a more holistic approach to wellness. 

“The global health crisis has changed consumer preferences in new and unexpected ways,”​ said Vince Macciocchi, president, Nutrition, ADM.

“We are seeing a heightened demand for foods and beverages that support immune systems, enhance our mood and reduce our environmental impact, driven in part by emerging human tensions. This has provided a unique opportunity for brands to develop disruptive new products that will forever change the way we eat and drink. It’s going to be a year of innovation, marked by significant breakthroughs in nutrition.”  

Trend 1: A more proactive approach to nourishing the body and mind

ADM research finds that 31% of consumers are purchasing more items tailored for their health, while 50% report a preference for snacks that naturally contain beneficial ingredients.

This is creating opportunities for nutrient-dense snacks with functional health benefits aimed at supporting immune systems, enhancing mood and sustaining energy.

Trendsetters: Deux and Happy Family Organics

Beautiful snacks

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Deux Foods has launched a line of functional, plant-based cookie doughs that are enhanced with immunity boosting vitamins, collagen, and protein.

Targeted at Gen X consumers who seek ‘food as beauty’ products to add to their skincare regime, the Deux line includes three gluten-free vegan variants, each targeting a specific function through the use of impactful ingredients, created with the guidance of a naturopathic doctor.

The classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is packed with a blend of immunity vitamins, including vitamin D, zinc, elderberry, chaga mushrooms and cordyceps.

The Collagen Brownie Batter is made with a proprietary vegan collagen blend that mimics the effects of bovine and marine collagen – composed of hyaluronic acid, amino acids and vitamin C.

It’s Protein Peanut Butter Cookie Dough is made of pea protein, a plant-based protein more brands are starting to use as an alternative to whey protein.

“Taste is at the forefront of Deux products, along with clean ingredients that consumers can feel good about, and a dose of activism and social responsibility, which are in our team’s DNA,”​ said Scout Brisson, cofounder of Deux.

“With the uncertain times that we're living in now, people are craving comfort and health, and often those are at odds. We launched Deux to not only fill a gap in the market, but to also bring joy and delight to consumers in a healthful way,”​ added Sabeena Ladha, cofounder of Deux and a PepsiCo alum.

DEUX cookie doughs – available online, as well as in Erewhon stores in Los Angeles from mid-October, for $15 per 12oz jar – are safe to each straight from the jar or baked into cookies.

Breastfeeding support

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Happy Family Organics has introduced Happy Mama Lactation Cookies, designed to support breastfeeding mothers and their unique nutritional needs.

The Happy Mama Lactation Cookies are the first and only lactation support cookies that are certified USDA organic, dairy-free and include a unique Nutrient-Boost Blend to support breastfeeding moms’ increased nutrient needs.

The blend comprises 100mg DHA (half or more than the amount in most prenatal vitamins), which helps support baby's brain and eye health; iron for oxygen circulation; and vitamin D to support bone health; along with vitamins B6 & B2, folic acid, biotin, thiamin and iodine. Additionally, the cookies include all-natural oats, ground flaxseed and brewer’s yeast.

“As a mom of three currently breastfeeding a newborn, nursing has been an incredibly unique experience that comes with new challenges each time, but ultimately has been one of the most rewarding aspects of motherhood for me,”​ said Anne Laraway, CEO of Happy Family Organics.

“Our Lactation Cookies were made to support breastfeeding moms’ dietary needs, all while helping them feel confident. And it doesn't hurt that they’re delicious, too.”

The brand has also launched the Happy Baby Experts Alexa Skill, a free one-on-one chat platform that provides expert feeding support, is hands-free and available 24/7.

Happy Mama Lactation Cookies are available at Meijer stores and on Amazon in two variants – Chocolate, Oat, & Sea Salt and Cinnamon & Oat – for an RRP of $14.99 for 10 cookies.

Alexa is a registered trademark of Amazon Technologies.

Trend 2: Sustainability takes centre stage 

Over two-thirds of consumers want to have a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions, a key reason why 32% of them seek out sustainably-produced snacks.

The growing awareness of our collective impact on the environment has elicited increasing demand for producers to demonstrate their sustainability commitment beyond just the end product, including more eco-friendly protein sources, farming practices such as regenerative agriculture, and renewable plant-based materials to reduce landfill waste.

Trendsetters: Palsgaard and Good to Go

Sustainable bakes

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According to Palsgaard, the price of products had become a more important factor since the pandemic. However, it has not detracted the consumer’s focus on environmental issues and 82% said they are still prepared to pay more for snacks containing sustainably produced ingredients.

Research from the emulsifier specialist found that 46% would pay over 5% more and 17% would pay over 10% more. Environmental issues were found to be of particular concern to younger consumers with climate change topping the list for most 18-24-year-olds.

“It would be understandable if the economic hardship caused by COVID-19 had pushed sustainability down the agenda. However, we found that the opposite was true. This is perhaps because great change causes people to reflect and focus on the things that matter most. Whatever the reason, the food industry cannot afford to underestimate the importance of environmental issues to consumers,”​ said Jakob Thøisen, Palsgaard’s CEO.

The company’s range of products helps the global food industry make the most of the ability to mix oil and water. It’s specialised emulsifiers (and emulsifier/stabiliser systems) improve the quality and extend the shelf life of a range of baked goods and snacks.

Just as importantly, they can produce better-for-you products with improved taste, mouthfeel and texture while using less resources. Palsgaard is currently the world’s only commercial source of fully sustainable emulsifiers based on RSPO SG-certified palm oil, produced by CO2​-neutral factories in Denmark, the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, China and Malaysia.

“We always believed that carbon neutrality was the right path to take from an ethical point of view. As this research shows, it also makes sound business sense. Consumers, especially younger ones, are increasingly focused on reducing their carbon footprints and will reward food manufacturers who share that commitment,”​ said Jakob Thøisen, Palsgaard’s CEO.

Palsgaard’s products are non-GMO and meet halal and kosher requirements.

First of its kind

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Canadian brand Good To Go – best known for its Keto-certified soft baked bars – has expanded its product line with Savoury Nut & Seeds Bites, made from sustainable super seeds.

Containing an assortment of organic nuts and sunflower, pumpkin, hemp and chia seeds, the no-sugar-added Bites are ‘the first savoury snack of its kind,’ according to the producer.

The Savoury Bites – available in Zesty Pecan, Almond & Sea Salt, Herb & Garlic and Everything – are also Keto-friendly and contain only 130-140 calories, 11-12g of plant based fat and 3-4g of net carbs per 25 gram serving.

“We’ve heard the outcry from our customers who are looking for savoury snacks that fit into their healthy lifestyle and diet, and are so excited to be able to fill that gap in the market with our Savoury Nut & Seed Bites that are made with delicious wholesome ingredients,”​ said Nima Fotovat, president and CEO of brand owner Riverside Natural Foods.

Riverside Natural Foods was recently awarded a silver rated TRUE Zero Waste business, meaning it diverts a minimum of 90% of waste for reuse, recycling, composting and recovery for use in nature or the economy. Additionally, it supports organic farmers and nonprofit organisations like The Hospital for Sick Children and Children’s Miracle Network and Daily Table, as well as donating 1% of its profit to 1% for the Planet to support the nature conservancy of Canada.

Good To Go Savoury Nut & Seed Bites are available in Loblaws stores and select natural retailers for an RRP of CAD$6.49.

Trend 3: The gut microbiome emerges as the gateway to wellness 

The pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in a more holistic approach to health, which includes a greater understanding of the foundational role of the gut microbiome on each individual’s health.

As such, products targeting the microbiome – shown to address metabolic issues such as weight management, immune system and emotional well-being – are providing fertile ground for snack producers.

Trendsetters: Tefftastic and General Mills

On a mission

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Tefftastic is on a mission to make snack lovers fall in love with a protein + prebiotic fibre-packed ancient grain.

Tefftastic Puffs are made in small batches in Ontario, Canada, using traditional Ethiopian methods and pure stone-ground black teff, one of the earth’s oldest ancient grains and a potent gluten-free superfood.

Packed with 8g of complete plant protein, 9g of gut-pleasing prebiotic fibre, all nine essential amino acids and an incredible vitamin and mineral profile per snack sized bag, Tefftastic takes spicy puffed snacks to a whole new level.

“Tefftastic was born from our dream to combine the unique flavours of our Ethiopian heritage with the health benefits of teff, Ethiopia’s superfood and Earth’s original ancient grain,”​ said Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder and CEO of Tefftastic.

“Our mission at Tefftastic is simple, to make you feel Tefftastic. That's our way of describing how you feel when you eat our snacks and how amazingly energised they make you feel long after you have finished eating them.”

The 100% plant-based snacks contain no artificial additives and come in two variants: Ethiopian Devil Pepper and Ethiopian Jalapeño + Coriander.

Tefftastic donates some of the proceeds of its snack sales to the Tefftastic Farmers Fund, which supports teff farmers in Ethiopia. Alemu has also been recognised by Forbes and CNN as one of the world’s most powerful women entrepreneurs in the past century.

Tefftastic Puffs are available online from the company.

Best of both worlds

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General Mills has expanded its Fibre One line of weight management snack bars with a new protein range in the UK.

The protein bars – available in ‘permissibly indulgent’ variants: Cookies & Cream and Caramel – contain 90 calories, 10g of protein and 1g of sugar.

“Our research found 71% of Fibre One consumers are interested in protein, but are wary of the high sugar and calorie content of protein bars currently on the market,”​ said Adrienne Burke, marketing manager of snacking at General Mills.

“Our new range is the ideal alternative – the bars are low in sugar and calories but taste great and give the perfect protein boost, especially for the pre-and post-gym occasion. Our consumers can finally have the best of both worlds.”

The range will launch exclusively in Tesco in the UK in November for an RRP of £2.89 per multipack of three bars.

Trend 4: Plant-based boom

According to ADM, 56% of consumers around the globe claim to be eating more plant-based foods, with the chilled, meat-free category experiencing a 29% year-on-year growth and currently worth £311m. Snack producers are quickly jumping on the bandwagon, with the plant-based snack sector – currently valued at £50m – showing trajectory growth.

Trendsetters: Gosh! and Laird Superfood

Better-for-you bites

Gosh

Plant-based and free from brand Gosh! has launched chilled, ready-to-eat Snack Bites in two tasty flavours to capitalise on the growing demand.

According to the producer, at the height of lockdown in May, ‘healthy snacks’ were high on the consumer’s Google search agenda – it’s highest peak since 2015. Aligned to this, Mintel data shows that 25% of UK millennials and one in 10 Brits claim a vegan diet is more appealing following lockdown.

The focus on plant-based is also steadily shifting towards a more specific focus on natural products, something that Gosh! says it can claim as its range of snacks contain 100% natural ingredients.

The free-from allergen Snack Bites – which are suitable for those following flexitarian, plant-based, free from and vegan diets – are baked, not fried, and come in two variants:

  • Smokey BBQ Sweet Potato: Sweet potato, sweetcorn and black beans are given a smoky flavour inspired by the deep South
  • Moroccan Spiced Veg: Chickpeas and red peppers are paired with dates, apricots, herbs and spices inspired by the cuisine of North Africa

“There’s an ever-growing demand for healthy, plant-based snacks and we believe that we are entering this category with a truly unique offering, in a convenient format,”​ said William Topp, marketing manager of Gosh!.

“Not many products are genuinely tasty and healthy, yet we are confident that we have achieved this with our all-natural Snack Bites.”

The Snack Bites launch in Morrisons’ free-from chilled aisle and in Tesco’s plant-based chilled aisle across the UK in November for an RRP of £1.00 per 56g bag.

All Gosh! products are free from the top 14 allergens and accredited by the Vegetarian Society, Vegan Society, Coeliac Society, Kosher London Beth Din and Sephardi Kashrut Authority.

A snacking debut

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Plant-based producer Laird Superfood is venturing into the snack food category with the introduction of Pili Nuts.

The Pili Nuts are grown on trees in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil of the Philippines before being wild harvested, sprouted in purified mountain water and slow dried to preserve their delicate, buttery flavour.

Aligned with Laird’s mission to provide food options that are whole food, plant-based, functional and nutrient-dense, the nuts are a good source of magnesium and Vitamin E and with approximately 18g of fat per serving, also provides long-lasting fuel and energy.

“The introduction of our Pili Nuts in the snack food category demonstrates our strong commitment to building a brand platform and continuing momentum in the natural foods market,”​ said Paul Hodge, CEO and co-founder of Laird Superfood.

“We aim to expand into many aisles of the grocery store – and we feel that Pili Nuts is the perfect place to start. They are convenient, nutritional and taste great for any adventure.”

Available in three variants, including Matcha (coated in organic Kyoto matcha and organic coconut flower sugar); Cacao (dusted with organic Ecuadorian Cacao and organic coconut flower sugar); and Himalayan Pink Salt.

Laird Superfood's Pili Nuts are available online and at select retailers for $11.95 for a 3-pack.

Trend 5: Transparency builds consumer trust 

Consumers expect food labels to provide greater transparency around the entire product lifecycle, with 26% of global consumers on the lookout for the Country of Origin (COO)on labels. 

The quest for cleaner ingredients also extends to flavours and colours, with many seeking natural alternatives to give an energising burst of ‘cool-ness’ to their snacks.

Trendsetters: Comax Flavors and Jason’s

Take a trip to the tropics

Comax Tropical Collection

Comax Flavors is inviting its customers to take a trip to the tropics without a plane ticket or even a passport. Touted as ‘a vacation in a bottle’, the company’s Greetings From The Tropics Collection embraces six exotic flavours: Coconut, Guava, Mango, Papaya, Passionfruit, and Pineapple.

The range – made from natural, water-soluble, liquid, non-GMO and allergen-free ingredients – can be used in a variety of applications including baked goods, snacks, beverages and dairy and plant-based products.

  • Coconut: Blends creamy and milky characteristics with sweet and fruity tropical accords
  • Guava: Highlights fresh green, mildly sour nuances with subtle spicy and citrus attributes with sulfury base notes
  • Mango: Refreshingly juicy with tropical citrus accents and faint sulfury attributes
  • Papaya: Offers fruity green accords with hints of melon and a mild sulfury background
  • Passionfruit: Anchored by juicy, tart, citrus and tropical notes with delicate floral nuances and an anticipated sulfury base
  • Pineapple: Mingles with faint creamy accents and slightly cooked acidic nuances

In its best light

Jason's

Geary’s Craft Bakers has refreshed its Jason’s Sourdough brand to reinforce the brand’s sourdough credentials and heritage.

The sourdough range – launched in M&S stores across the UK earlier this year – is spearheaded by fourth generation master baker Jason Geary, who hopes the punchier and modern branding will bring the family’s ethos to life.

The new packaging has brand icons to highlight the personality, with a focus on taste, quality and how best to enjoy the loaves, such as ‘perfect for your toaster’.

With a clear, transparent window, consumers are also able to see exactly what they are buying, and the bag is resealable, maintaining a longer shelf life.

“We are delighted to be re-launching with new modern and striking packaging that really highlights the bread in its best light and showcases what we are all about – great tasting, properly made sourdough. Jason’s Sourdough is really special, each ‘Ciabattin’ loaf is baked with a commitment to quality, time and patience and is a result of my personal passion to baking bread the right, time honoured way to deliver amazing taste. We are all really proud of this product and can’t wait to see the new packaging on the shelves,”​ said Geary.

Jason’s Sourdough is available in M&S stores nationwide in three variants – White, Grains & Seeds and Craft Beer – for an RRP £1.80 per loaf.

Trend 6: There’s still time for indulgence

Trendsetter: Délifrance

Seeking solace

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According to Délifrance, indulgence is still key in driving the viennoiserie category as consumers look for treats in uncertain times.

Its latest insights report – Prove It: A Viennoiserie Focus – reports that 82% of consumers who have not already decided what they want are influenced by the smell, look and level of indulgence of a pastry.

Insights into consumer behaviour by Harris & Hayes also suggest that not only does indulgence pave the way for innovations, but ‘permissible indulgence’ also forms part of the wider health & wellness trend in terms of self-care, as consumers look for little treats during difficult times.

And while quality and convenience are most important, 96% and 95% of respondents, respectively, the pandemic means hygiene is also now key to 88% of consumers.

“We know that pastry purchase is emotionally driven, especially for impulse purchases motivated by scent and visual appeal – but quality, convenience and hygiene are non-negotiable, especially post-COVID. Consumers are only willing to indulge and treat themselves if they know it’s worth it, easy, and safe to do so,”​ notes Harris & Hayes.

New habits and working routines are also shaping how consumers enjoy viennoiserie, with home consumer on the rise, and shopping missions becoming larger and less frequent. More than 60% of consumer opt for a viennoiserie snack, compared to 29% who eat pastry at breakfast time.

“This report highlights the changing consumer landscape, as people juggle post-lockdown (and renewed lockdown) life with work, leisure time and family. Interest in indulgence and snacking presents operators with a host of opportunities throughout the day – not just at breakfast time,”​ Stéphanie Brillouet, marketing director, Délifrance.

Délifrance has – for more than 30 years – been developing bakery, viennoiserie, pâtisserie and savoury products for foodservice providers, retailers and bakers in about 100 countries around the world.

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