Global Snack Food Trends

The health and wellness products taking the snacking world by storm

As mentioned in the first part of this series, in 2020 the Global snack foods market category was valued at $215.9 billion USD, growing at a CAGR of 2.7%.

It’s now time for us to dive into savoury snacks and discover why this sector continues to grow year-on-year, the factors that are leading global consumers to choose healthier, better-for-you, snacks, and which product categories and trends are proving most popular.

Global savoury snack food market

Savoury snacks dominate global snacking with a retail value of around $175 billion USD in 2020, showing that not everyone has a sweet tooth.

The top three regional markets for savoury snacks in terms of sales and per capita consumption are:

  • North America

  • Asia Pacific

  • Western Europe

Each region has its own preference when it comes to snacking, we’ll touch on that in the following sections, but what is most noticeable around the world is the change in consumer attitudes as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

global savoury snacks retail value

Although traditional potato snacks still dominate the snacking space, vegetable, pulse, bread chips and rice snacks have been growing well, whilst nuts, seeds and trail mixes remain steady.

We can expect to see many of the big players in the snack sector (PepsiCo, Lays, etc.) reducing the amount of salt, fats, and/or sugars in their snack products in order to adhere to new legislations that are being brought in around the world. Smaller brands looking to enter new international markets should also be aware of such rules and regulations to make the smartest export choices.

New labelling requirements in Mexico were brought in in 2020, whilst a traffic light system is set to be introduced in 2o21 in Brazil. As these are the two biggest snack markets in LATAM, the new regulations are anticipated to have a negative impact on the sale of salty snacks in the region.

eat real chips

Similar worries are also being expressed by snack brands on sale in the United Kingdom with the introduction of new HFSS (high-fat, salt, sugar) regulations expected over the next 12-months. Not only will this impact the brands who manufacture snack products, but also the retailers who sell them. HFSS snack products will be pushed to more “difficult to find” locations in store, with brands that adhere to the new regulations taking prime shelf-space.

Another important market consideration for brands that may be looking towards the APAC region. In both China and India, international snack brands have struggled to thrive when attempting to introduce a Western product to these countries. Consumers need to be educated when it comes to foreign snacks, and category adoption has been slow. Instead, manufacturers should be looking more closely at local flavours, textures and ingredients, adapting products where possible. More on this in the following sections.

Consumer trends

Consumer attitudes towards the savoury snack sector have changed over the last year during the pandemic. There are now two clear snacking behaviours: the desire to live a healthier lifestyle as a result of lengthy local lockdowns, versus the comforting familiarity brought by traditional salty snacks.

With obesity levels around the world continuing to rise, particularly childhood obesity in certain regions, the need to make better choices is driving consumers towards products that promote a wholesome, guilt-free snacking experience.

The fewer ingredients the better, with clean label products increasing in popularity. Bean-based, high-protein, and seed snacks are anticipated to experience the highest growth outside of traditional snacks over the next five years, with the core players already dabbling in these areas.

Snacks free-from allergens are also expected to demonstrate growth, particularly in the West. This includes gluten-free options like stackable potato chips from The Good Crisp Company, and Chika’s plantain crisps.

the good crips company crisps selection

As we have seen with sweet snack products, consumers demonstrating a mindful approach to what they are putting into their bodies, will shape the savoury snack sector over the next decade.

Product categories

When it comes to savoury snacks there are some very specific regional variations in terms of consumer preference. This should be taken into consideration when looking to enter a new market.

With that in mind, we’ve taken the five savoury snacking product categories and trends that we feel appeal to the masses, as well as highlighting some global brands who are making a name for themselves in the snack space.

Baked not fried

Given UK HFSS restrictions and similar regulations coming into place around the world, many snack brands have started making the move towards healthier production methods, the most common of which is baking or roasting.

This is becoming a popular global trend and covers not only potato snacks, but also savoury biscuits, crackers, and bread chips. In fact, savoury biscuits is the biggest single snack category in Latin America, unlike anywhere else in the world.

The Simply Roasted range from Mindful Snacker, is a collection of traditional potato crisps, available in six flavours, which go through three different methods of dehydration that result in a super crispy product without frying. Tara Quick of Mindful Snacker said the message behind the Simply Roasted range is to “take away the angst you feel when you snack”, and we totally get it!

When it comes to crackers, there are some really interesting and innovative brands taking advantage of this expanding category. Eva Bold, is a brand new, UK-based company that produces high-protein, keto-friendly crackers from 100% natural ingredients. Boasting some great nutritional benefits, and available in four moreish flavours, we expect to see Eva Bold and similar brands appearing on supermarket and health food store shelves over the next 12-months.

Beans and pulses

Beans and pulses not only provide incredible health benefits but can be used in a variety of ways to manufacture innovative, nutritionally rich sweet and savoury snacks.

This category has been steadily growing, particularly in Western Europe and North America, but is also one of the most dynamic product categories in Latin America, experiencing impressive growth between 2015-2020.

Brands like The Happy Snack Company, Cheeky P’s  and The Good Bean produce grab-and-go portions of baked fava beans and chickpeas, as well as tortilla chips made from black, white and pinto beans. These are becoming popular with parents looking to replace potato chips with a healthier, more fulfilling snack for their child’s lunchbox.

Another format of bean and pulse snack that is taking off with consumers is the puff. Driven by the search to find a healthy, protein rich snack for her daughter, the founder of BEPPS (Black Eyed Pea Puff Snacks) decided it was time to make a product of her own using black eyed peas. Now available in a variety of favours and sizes, BEPPS are leading the way in small brand pea snacks in the UK.

Nuts, seeds and trail mixes

After potato snacks, global sales of nuts, seeds and trail mixes have remained steady. These protein and healthy-fat packed nuggets of goodness are a great go-to for a fulfilling snack, and many brands continue to innovate the space.

This is one area where premiumisation has certainly taken place. Brands such as SAHALE Snacks have taken the humble nut and enhanced it with flavour profiles from around the world: Thai cashews, Creole beans and nuts, and Asian sesame edamame. SAHALE’s higher price point and elegant packaging take trial mixes to the next level adding a sense of indulgence and luxury.

In both APAC and LATAM, the demand for pre-packaged nuts and seeds is much lower that other regions, simply due to the fact that unpackaged products are more readily available for local consumers.

Brands like OH! Nuts are looking to bring this to US consumers through their online store that not only provides the option to bulk buy nuts and seeds, but also provides pre-packaged snack packs of their core products. Again, appealing to those looking for convenient snacking.

Despite the overall smaller demand for pre-packaged nuts and seeds in Asia, the Chinese brand Three Squirrels dominates the category and continues to grow year-on-year. What’s interesting here is the company’s approach to marketing and branding. Featuring three cute and cuddly squirrels on its packaging, advertising and in-store merchandise, Three Squirrels is targeting children, encouraging them to make healthier snacking choices for themselves. A great approach that others could learn from.

Puffed and popped snacks

We briefly touched upon puffed snacks, but this is one area which is growing in strength and variety around the world. From chickpea and bean puffs, to flavoured air-popped corn, we anticipate that there will be further growth in sales for this category over the coming years.

For example, in India, although local street snacks remain the most popular snacking option amongst consumers, healthy living is driving the growth of wholegrain snack products like popcorn and puffed snacks.

One innovative brand that is utilising a relatively unknown ingredient is Brass Roots. Hailing from New Orleans, Brass Roots creates its puffed snacks from Sacha Inchi seeds which are native to Thailand and Laos. Combining the seeds with rich flavours such as truffle rosemary and jalapeño cheddar, the brand is providing consumers a truly unique and healthy snacking experience.

Another puffed snack pioneer is BIENA, has recently launched a keto-friendly alternative to its original chickpea puffs. Tapping into another target demographic is set to see BIENA’s market share grow in the keto snacking space. One to watch!

Unconventional flavour profiles

The final savoury snack trend we want to cover is the use of unconventional flavours and ingredients.

When looking at the snacking behaviours in the Asia Pacific region, consumers like to stick with flavours and snack formats that they are used to. Foreign snacks such as pretzels, vegetable crisps, etc. have not performed well for brands looking to enter APAC, particularly in South-eastern Asia.

Here there is a need for international brands to adapt products to meet the preferences of local consumers. Here a regional approach works best so be sure to do your research into top performing snack products and flavours. Also look closely at differing tastes within your target country. For example, in North Vietnam consumers prefer salty and savoury flavours, whereas people from the South look for sweet and spicy products.

In Thailand and the Philippines savoury snacks like flavoured rice paper, dried squid, and seaweed snacks have pulled ahead of potato chips in recent years. Other snacks which are also popular here are insect snacks and salmon skin crackers.

Although some of these flavours might be a bit too exotic for Western consumers, there may also be opportunities for retailers or distributors to bring some of these snacks to Europe and North America. With growing expat communities around the world, there are many consumers looking for a taste of home that is currently unavailable to them. Something to consider if you’re a buyer of healthy savoury snacks.

  • The savoury snacking segment continues to thrive around the world as a result of innovative new approaches and flavours to suit the tastes of both local and global consumers. There are plenty of up-and-coming brands to keep an eye on over the coming years, and you might be one of them!

  • If you’re a producer of savoury snacks looking to expand your reach overseas but don’t know where to start, then please get in touch with the Bolst Global team.

  • As we’ve seen, there are also some fantastic opportunities for retailers and distributors to bring new and exciting snacking experiences to your home market. This is where Bolst Global can help. We have experience in both sourcing and exporting savoury snacks, so let us know how we can help. We’ll look forward to speaking with you.

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