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Global snack trends 2013: ‘It was a spicy year’

By Kacey Culliney+

12-Dec-2013

Unusual flavors set for 2014: 'R&D departments have realized that consumers have become more adventurous. They're more willing to try the unusual,' says ESA director-general
Unusual flavors set for 2014: 'R&D departments have realized that consumers have become more adventurous. They're more willing to try the unusual,' says ESA director-general

Fiery flavors, popped chips and retail-ready pack designs were some of the biggest trends for snack makers this year, according to trade heads in Europe and the US.

As 2013 draws to a close, BakeryandSnacks.com spoke to the European Snacks Association (ESA) and Snack Food Association (SFA) about some of the biggest flavor, product and packaging trends that shaped the market this year and what is set to happen next year.

Hot, hot, hot flavors

Sebastian Emig, director-general of ESA, said that there was a clear trend towards spiciness in snacks.

“The big trend this year has been hot, hot, hot. There have been a lot of spicy flavors launched – daring consumers to try out new snacks and nuts. It was a spicy year.”

Tom Dempsey, CEO of the Snack Food Association (SFA), agreed that there were a lot of ‘spicy’ snack launches in 2013, particularly drawing influence from Hispanic foods.

Emig said that for 2014, ‘unusual’ flavors will be brought to market as research and development (R&D) teams work hard to entice consumers. “R&D departments have realized that consumers have become more adventurous. They’re more willing to try the unusual.”

Consumers will also be more involved in future flavor developments via social media, he added.

“Before a flavor is launched there’s tremendous consumer feedback. However, with the strong social media trend we’re going through, the balance is shifting more. We’re going to listen, and have to listen, to the consumers more.”

Popped chips for a health burst

Dempsey said that rice snacks, popped chips and nutrition bars had created impact in the US this year, although none had out-paced the traditional potato chip favorite.

“Almost all of our manufacturers have launched better-for-you products this year. We’re not trailing behind but really leading ahead,” he said.

Emig agreed that snack makers have worked to develop healthier products this year. “What we’ve seen is that health is still a trend. European snack makers have launched a lot of products which are baked, contain up to less than 70% fat or are reinforced with fiber and multigrain.”

For example, popped chips entered the European market for the first time in 2013, he added.

Packaged for on-the-go snacking

Dempsey said that 2013 also saw snack makers tailor packaging so that products are shelf-ready for retailers.

“Packaging is being adapted to retailers. For example, small packs for single-serve demands and large packs for big retailers and warehouses. We’ve tailored our pack to meet the consumer shopping experience in the retailer of their choice. I think this will continue to happen,” he said.

Packaging has also been adapted to cater for the on-the-go culture, Emig added, particularly in the UK.

A flexible nut pack in the shape of a soft drink was launched in the UK this year, he explained, enabling consumers to ‘drink’ the nuts from the bag.

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