According to Sebastian Emig, director general of the European Snacks Association – organizers of Snackex – the trade fair was the largest ever with over 177 exhibitors alongside a power-driven conference.
“The show is held every two years to give the exhibitors time to come up with new innovations, otherwise the innovation cycle is too short to have it every year,” said Emig, noting the trade show has never had this many exhibitors.
“We extended the show floor twice, and the only [reason] we couldn’t extend anymore were the walls.”
The art of grazing
The conference centered on Snackification and how savory snack makers could seize the new opportunities created by this trend to capture an even bigger share of the growing snacks market worldwide.
But what is ‘snackification’?
Emig said he came across the term a couple of years ago, which puts the consumer in the middle and stepping away from the three-meals-a-day tradition.
“We are more into a grazing culture… with a nibble here and a nibble there to fulfil our needs.”
He noted ‘snackification’ is not restricted to the savory snacks sector, but is prevalent in other F&B sectors, too, like confectionery.
"Taste, pleasure and healthier nutrition: These will be the three big buzzwords for the next couple of years." - Sebastian Emig
He added that the industry has stepped up to meet this consumer demand with portable options, smaller portion-controlled packs, more applicable across several occasions.
Emig said during his eight years with ESA, he had noticed that the savory snacks industry is a “fairly crisis resistant sector.
“On the one side, when you have an economic dip, people start cocooning [staying more at home] and snacks add the feel-good factor.
“Conversely, when there is an economic upturn, people go out more, have more parties and snacks are part of that.
“So, overall, there is a moderate but consistent positive growth in the savory snacks sector,” he said.
However, he noted consumers are becoming more demanding for “the whole package” and less brand loyal.
“This is putting producers on their heels to be one step ahead. The challenge is to offer the right snack at the right time for the right occasion. Taste, pleasure and healthier nutrition: These will be the three big buzzwords for the next couple of years."
Emig detailed ESA’s big milestones in the past year.
Recently, the association played a major role in mitigating proposed tariffs by a member country on blanched peanuts. The member contended the process of removing the skins classed them as ‘processed’ peanuts and, therefore, were subject to the same tariffs.
“This would have been a big blow to the savory snacks industry and would have been a far bigger blow for other industries that use peanuts, such as the oil-crushing industry and the confectionery industry,” said Emig.
“ESA was there spearheading and leading the way – with the support of others, thankfully – but that was a big success on our side.”
He also outlined ESA’s successes with acrylamide and its work with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Commission on this point. Watch the video to find out more.