Push for more protein-fortified snacks in Europe is driving category expansion

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Glanbia's milk-protein crisp bars are an example of the new snacking trend. Pic: Glanbia
Glanbia's milk-protein crisp bars are an example of the new snacking trend. Pic: Glanbia

Related tags Snacks

Fortified protein snacks are proving popular with European consumers, who are demanding more choices and better-tasting products, according to new research.

Glanbia Nuritionals’ European Healthy Snacking Innovation Team has discovered that 16% of respondents to its survey are eating protein-fortified snacks at least once a week, as consumers in Europe turn to perceived healthier snacks over more traditional options.

The findings were shared during a recent Glanbia Nutritionals webinar ‘the next wave of high protein snacking in Europe’ and the research – which polled 3,000 people across Germany, France, Sweden, and Italy –  showed that across Europe, consumers are cutting down on ‘less healthy’ snacks, such as soft drinks, candy, traditional chocolate bars and crisps.

Overall, the research found that many consumers are snacking for nourishment, with 32% saying eating more snacks allows them to manage their appetite, while 40% say they manage their snacking to ensure they have sustained energy to get through the day. However, consumers are also using snacking as a reward or treat (51% of consumers), and 43% of Europeans snack when they are bored as a form of distraction.

With healthy snack consumption increasing, this has paved the way for a growing interest in snacks with fortified benefits that are often perceived as healthier, such as snacks that offer protein, the research authors say.

In fact, 46% of consumers believe protein bars count as a healthy snack, whilst 16% of consumers are now using protein-fortified snacks – such as protein bars, powders, cereals and pancakes – once a week. This jumps significantly to 29% for active lifestyle consumers[1, and 40% for sports performance consumers. For producers, there is an opportunity to tap into consumer insights and develop products with health benefits, flavours and formats that appeal to consumers to help the snacking category grow.”

‘Taste is non-negotiable’

Another finding by the Glanbia Innovation Team is it is clear that for consumers, taste is non-negotiable – it is the number one requirement that protein products are great tasting, according to the research, followed by it being high in protein and low/no sugar across both RTD protein shakes and bars. Additional consideration for bar consumers is it being filling (important for 33% of consumers). What’s more, among regular protein bar consumers, low/no sugar and good source of vitamins and minerals are particularly important.

European protein bar users are showing an interest in protein cookies (50%) and brownies (47%), for example, while 34% say protein crisps sound appealing. Baked goods such as protein-fortified pastries and donuts (30%) are also rated highly, as well as small, bite-sized formats like protein bites (30%) and balls (24%), while protein spreads are another opportunity, with 34% expressing an interest in this type of product.

Sonja Matthews, Senior Manager Strategic Insights EMEA & ASPAC at Glanbia Nutritionals, comments: “From our research it’s clear to see that health and wellbeing is a key consideration for consumers, and they are actively seeking out snacks which fit into their healthy lifestyles. We are seeing new products hitting the shelves from protein cookies to protein-fortified chocolate bars, showcasing that if a product is innovative and exciting, tastes great, and has the health benefits consumers are looking for, it can really cut through the competition. We think this is just the beginning and are excited to continue to work with our customers to help them develop the next big moment in healthy snacking​.”