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Micro Market Snacks: What's In, What's Out

For the last few years, the demand for better for you (BFY) and healthy snacks has been on the rise. Automatic Merchandiser’s annual industry report shows a large percentage of micro market sales from fresh food and nutritious products, driven by this BFY demand.

Micro Market Snacks: What's In, What's Out

In 2018 consumers also started taking this idea of BFY and applying it to sweets. In May, Convenience Store Decisions (CSD) covered the change in chocolate sales. The most successful chocolate sellers pushed the BFY qualities of their chocolate such as dark chocolate or added functional ingredients that had probiotics or antioxidants. Texture was also mentioned in 2018. Consumers were asked to vote in a flavor campaign which included crunchy options in three flavors and Mintel reported on textures in chocolate and regular treats.

Healthy is staying in

American Customer Satisfaction Index’s Nondurable Products Report 2018 included support that food makers who tailored products to the growing demand for fresh, natural and organic products saw more sales in the grocery channel. At the 2018 NAMA Show health and wellness experts in the industry talked about not only the continuation of healthy eating, but the responsibility operators have in educating consumers. Lucille Beseler, president of Family Nutrition Center of S. Florida said that people are interested in nutrition and listening to the newest product options, which includes what is available in the micro market. Diane Striegel, director, sales planning, foodservice of Mondelez International advocated for providing science-based, nutritionally quality products. These could be at a discount, or part of a unique opportunity where operators educated consumers about the science-based benefits of the products.

Gluten-free fading

Certain food attributes weren’t as trendy in 2018, including Gluten-free. U.S. News reported Google search data for gluten-free dropping off since 2013 and the 2017 National Restaurant Association’s forecast mentioned gluten-free as old news.

Texture words

Today’s consumer wants to read about how the food will feel and sound, not just taste, according to Baking Business citing Mintel research. Mintel says what is trending is unique, textural experiences such as crunchy, crispy, silky, etc. For instance, Mintel’s research showed that those brands that described their product with textural qualities have a better chance of being bought by consumers than those that don’t. Multiple textures within one product were also popular, driving the new flavor experience consumers were after. That new experience is driving bold flavor choices as well.

Spicy flavors from snacks and candy

Consumers have been steadily buying the spicy versions of their favorite snacks as quickly as they are released. Now, that love of heat and bold flavors is making its way to candy. Sales of spicy and hot flavored candy went from 16 percent in 2017 to 25 percent in 2018, according to

Meals are out

About mid-year the fact that snacks were replacing meals started to make news. A major snack food provider indicated that consumers were moving farther away from the traditional three meals a day, actually eating more, six to eight times, but using snacks and mini meal portions. As the year progressed it came out just how much the US consumer had changed. Sponsored research found 86 percent of Americans have eaten snacks in place of meals. Another source, Statista, says 32 percent of Americans skip or replace at least one meal with snacks, and 43 percent eat three meals as well as snacks, according to a July 2018 survey.

To take advantage of these trends, operators should continue to stock multiple options, many fitting into the healthy, spicy and bold flavor varieties. These were strong in 2018 and will continue, as will snacking and the importance it plays in the average US consumer’s daily routine. Texture is a new concept for many operators, but one important to consumers exploring snacks available at a micro market. Count on snacks to be a strong revenue driver, as using snacks to replace meals is a steadily increasing trend.

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