The research firm’s latest report Five Opportunities for Snacking in 2015 identified a handful of promising areas for next year’s snacking space:
. The snackification of vegetables
. Post-dinner snacking
. The fourth meal
. Snacks for the active
. Breakfast skippers
Mark Whalley, head of food and drink at Datamonitor Consumer, said there were significant opportunities around occasion-targeted snacking in particular.
“There’s always going to be flavor innovation or fortification with ingredients and new types of products and we’ll still see good examples of this but key to growth will be making people purchase products and consume them at a time they haven’t considered before,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“Making products more specific to occasions or creating new occasions is the best thing that could happen in industry,” he said.
Post-dinner and the fourth meal
Whalley said there was heaps of potential in post-meal snacking, as well as snacking after midnight – the ‘fourth meal’.
“For example, in the US a yogurt is considered something to snack on in the morning, but there is the option to develop dessert yogurts. Muller in the UK has launched champagne-flavored yogurt, for example. Similarly there is the idea of cheeses being a dessert,” he said.
Traditional snack makers, he said, could tap into these concepts by teaming up with other food firms, for example a cracker company could collaborate with a cheese company to develop a post-dinner snack kit, he said.
Opportunities for targeting the fourth meal occasion, however, could be tapped into by cereal manufacturers alone, Whalley said. Kellogg had already done so, he said, with Fruit Loops, Krave and Mini-Wheats specifically targeting late-night snacking.
“This is the idea of not snacking after dinner but late at night and this is something that 18-24 year old young adults do. Compared to older adults, these guys over-index on snacking late into the evening…Cereals have always been a popular student choice but it’s always been in spite of how they’re positioned and marketed.”
For snacks that targeted this midnight hour, he said there was less need for a health focus. “The later you go through the day, the more likely you are to snack on something unhealthy… You start the day looking to be as healthy as possible and a lot of people tend to wilt throughout the day.”
However, he said these products would have to be tasty, easy to prepare and consume and maybe even have a small functional element to them, for example contain caffeine to help consumers stay awake or the opposite – contain a calming ingredient to aid sleep.
Targeting breakfast skippers and the active consumer
Whalley said there was also opportunities to target occasions for specific consumer groups.
“I think it’s a bit of a myth that everybody is skipping breakfast – the majority of people report they have breakfast in one form or another, but it’s what people who skip breakfast turn to that differs,” he said.
He said the biggest breakfast-skipping countries were the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand but Americans tended to eat yogurts as a snack if they skipped breakfast versus UK consumers who were more likely to turn to fruit.
“It’s not just a case that a snack manufacturer can put a snacking position on a product and launch it globally, it’s about making sure that products are tapping into what it is that people turn to by region – they need to be clear that there won’t be a one-size-fits-all strategy,” Whalley said.
Beyond breakfast-skippers, active and sporty consumers presented a promising demographic for snack makers, he said.
“These are people who exercise and snack generally because they require more calories to fuel their lifestyle, so protein for example is relevant.”
Products for active or sporty consumers, he said, didn’t necessarily have to be super healthy but rather serve a function – perhaps giving energy. “Consumers report being tired and fatigued more than any other health condition. They’re far more worried about overwork and fatigue than heart problems, for example, so snacks that tap into the idea of helping fatigue would be great.”
The veggie boom
Finally, Whalley said vegetables would continue to be an area of opportunity for snack makers but also the wider food sector.
“The snackification of vegetables is something we’ve already seen but we think it has more potential to hit the mainstream. There’s already kale snacks on the market – we’ve seen a lot of innovation in that area – but our most recent research shows it’s still something like only one-third of consumers that snack of vegetables.”
Compared to the nine out of 10 consumers that snacked on fruit, vegetable snacking still had room for growth, he said, but not necessarily for the traditional snack maker. “Industry needs to become more convenient, in terms of the preparation part of vegetables, using things like pouches or frozen popsicle veggie snacks – experimenting with different delivery formats,” he said.
Let the battle commence!
While there were plenty of areas of promise, Whalley said next year would not be easy for snack makers because of rising competition from other sectors like drinks, cereals and veg.
“People will spend more on snacks than ever but I think it will be harder to produce a really dominant new brand that wins out over all the others,” he said.