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Taste is Tops with Snack-Hungry Consumers

2017 Trend Report - Treats Stay On Top

The popularity of snacking is surging, driving manufacturers and foodservice operators to provide an ever-expanding assortment of options to satisfy the market’s seemingly insatiable appetite. But what’s the common denominator driving snack consumption?

Flavor remains the #1 factor influencing snack selection1

Flavor finds favor over nutrition in determining snacking behavior. A Mintel survey showed that while 33% of survey participants said that they are snacking more on better-for-you foods with simple ingredients and low calorie counts compared to the previous year, 62% cited the desire to satisfy a yearning as their main reason for snacking.2

2017 Trend Report - Treats Stay On Top

Though we shouldn’t minimize the appeal of better-for-you snack options (60% of U.S. consumers wish there were more2), taste is triumphant as the top priority. Slightly more than half consider taste more important than wellness.2 The key to maximizing snack sales may be to balance better-for-you ingredients with satisfying flavor. Consumers, especially wellness-conscious millennials with a taste for bold and eclectic flavor experiences, are demanding both.

"Demand is driven primarily by taste and health considerations and consumers are not willing to compromise on either," explained Susan Dunn, executive vice president for global professional services at Nielsen.3 "While conventional cookies, cakes and confections categories still hold the majority of snack sales, more innovation in the healthy snacking and portable food space is necessary to adjust to this changing dynamic."3

As on-the-go lifestyles create demand for snacks as quick, convenient meal replacements, foodservice operators have an opportunity to boost business with grab-and-go options that combine taste and nutrition. And consumers hungry for flavorful better-for-you options present a feast of potential profits for manufacturers. As Dunn explained, in contrast to the old perception of snacking as a between-meals interlude, "There is a massive untapped opportunity to gain market share in the nutritious, portable and easy-to-eat meal alternative market that snack manufacturers could fill."3

Whether a snack is considered better-for-you or not, it better taste good. The reason so many consumers value taste and flavor over wellness-oriented alternatives seems simple: Unless a snack tastes good, people are unlikely to eat it. By offering applications with robust flavor profiles in portion-controlled, calorie-friendly formats, foodservice operators can tap into the growing market for nutritious yet delicious snack varieties.

Also of note is consumers' insistence on authenticity. Manufacturers are adopting clean labels that list recognizable ingredients as foods with minimal processing and maximum flavor and nutritional value continue to grow in popularity. Simpler is better, according to the 44% of millennials who pay particular attention to ingredient lists.4

As manufacturers reevaluate their portfolios in light of the better-for-you and clean label movement, it becomes critical to keep in mind that snacks with good nutrition also need to offer good taste. Forego the additives, not the flavor. The wellness benefits of whole grain, high protein, and gluten-free options may make certain snacks desirable, but not necessarily flavorful or profitable. A product mix with a balance of better-for-you ingredients and flavor appeal may be the best way to help feed your bottom line.

1 Added Value Q3 2015

2 Mintel, A Snacking Nation: 94% of Americans Snack Daily, July 9, 2015

3 Joseph, Seb, "Health and taste to shape snacking trends for food marketers," Marketing Week, Sept. 30, 2014

4 FONA International, Snack Happy Consumers, Feb. 15, 2016

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