Healthy snacking

What will drive the healthy snack space in 2023?

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Brands will have 365 healthy opportunities to appeal to consumers in 2023. Pic: GettyImages/anyaivanova
Brands will have 365 healthy opportunities to appeal to consumers in 2023. Pic: GettyImages/anyaivanova

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While snacking has long been associated with indulgence and fulfilling a guilty craving, a raft of new offers are popping up on the market that more closely align with consumers’ holistic wellness goals.

Better-for-you treats – once a trend – are now an expectation. At the same time, indulgence is seen as an important element in supporting emotional wellbeing. As more people take a proactive approach to holistic wellness, they’re increasingly seeking out snacks to help them feel good, both mentally and physically.

In fact, data from ADM's proprietary consumer insights platform, Outside Voice, found that 79% of global consumers believe that supporting their mental wellbeing has a positive effect on their overall wellness.

“Snacking can serve as a reward, providing a quick mood boost that may help alleviate stress or tension,”​ said John Powers, marketing director, Snacking and Baked Goods for ADM.

“With that in mind, consumers are searching for delicious and nutritious treats featuring ingredients that link to different areas of wellbeing.”

Key for 2023

This means that the one-size-fits-all concept is no longer satisfactory. According to FMCG Guru’s 2021 Personalised Nutrition Report, 63% of global consumers seek out products that are customised to meet their individual nutritional needs.

As such, said Powers, bakery and snack brands that diversify their offerings to target need states like energy, immunity and mentality will be well-positioned for success in 2023 and beyond.

Sustained energy

African couple cycling energy bar kali9
Pic: GettyImages

Baked goods and snacks enjoyed between meals are often meant to offset hunger or boost a dipping energy level.

“Foods with wholesome ingredients – including ancient grains, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds – may help provide a sense of fullness without a spike in blood sugar,”​ said Powers.

“Snack and bakery items made with ancient grains, gluten-free flours or resistant starches can help satisfy cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods. Some whole food ingredients may also offer extra protein, fibre and other important nutrients along with desirable flavours, textures and colours.”

From crackers and biscuits to buns and breads, a variety of NPD are targeting ontrend eating approaches like keto, vegan and low-carb, and those that are a medical necessity, like gluten-free and diabetic-friendly.

“Sometimes people need more energy, whether that’s during a long study session or before or after an intense workout,”​ added Powers.

“That’s where functional botanicals can play a role. Ingredients like guarana, yerba mate and green coffee are plant-based sources of caffeine, and antioxidant nutrients can support an active lifestyle.

“Functional ingredients that promote energy, mental focus and exercise performance are part of the growing movement for ‘energy plus’ products. Nutrition bars often feature wholesome and botanical ingredients, and they are a popular choice for consumers on the go.”

Perceived benefits

According to Powers, snacking provides the perfect opportunity to take a personalised approach to nutrition, enabling consumers to pick out their preferred flavours, formats and functions.

FMCG Guru’s report found three out of four consumers are interested in products that are customised to help them maintain their health as they grow older. So, said Powers, “foods containing ingredients with a health halo are perceived by consumers to support general wellbeing, including protein bites in fresh citrus flavours, black bean chips and dip, bran muffins baked with currants and more.”

ADM's Outside Voice indicates that 58% of global consumers perceive a connection between the function of bacteria in the gut to wider aspects of wellbeing.

“New product development in this space places a heavy emphasis on prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics that aim to support a healthy microbiome.

“In the bakery and snacks category, spore-forming probiotics and heat-treated postbiotics are especially key, as they can remain functional despite harsh processing conditions,”​ added Powers.

“Notably, the flexibility of postbiotics in formulation is accelerating their adoption in nutrition solutions beyond that of prebiotics and probiotics when each was first released into the market.”

Bites for balanced mood

Consumer confidence Andres Victorero
Pic: GettyImages

Snackers frequently turn to food as a way to process the full spectrum of their emotions, from eating for comfort to eating in celebration.

“Snacks and sweets can provide a sense of pleasure and support emotional wellbeing,”​ said Powers.

“Flavour is one way to deliver on these consumer needs, like the familiar nostalgia of childhood or seasonal favourites, as well as more exotic flavours that encourage daring and discovery, such as finger lime or harissa.

“Limited time offerings (TLOs) also fall into this realm, creating a sense of urgency to try novel treats before they disappear from store shelves.”

Purposeful indulgence

With holistic health and wellbeing being more important than ever – and this state directly connected to what we consume – Powers reiterated the brands that will shine in 2023 will create elevated experiences that are on par with traditional offerings so that shoppers can treat themselves without having to make sacrifices in flavour, texture or optionality.

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