When observed superficially, snack trends might seem like sporadic food fads to many. But as per the top food industry insights, these are significant changes driven by social-economic, cultural, and behavioral factors. For instance, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a global upheaval of sorts. Anxiety, health awareness, sustainability, and cost constraints have been rampant. The latest snack trends have thus been a direct outcome of these dynamics.
Let us go through the top snack trends for 2021:
To cater to the growing consumer requirements for healthy snacking, a range of wellness-oriented snacks are trending. When healthy snacks were introduced about two decades ago, the focus was primarily on low-fat variants. Food industry insights have revealed massive expansion in this realm. Today, the options are wide open with various categories such as:
- Gut-friendly Snacks like Yogurts, Cheese Sticks, and Probiotic Fruit Gummies
- Therapeutic and Stress-busting Snacks with ingredients like Turmeric, Ashwagandha, and Nettle Leaf
- Gluten-free Snacks with a particular focus on ancient grains and healthy baking add-ons
- Low-sugar and sugar-free snacks with Stevia being the most-coveted alternative sweetener
- GMO-free/organic snacks with fresh and locally sourced ingredients
- Snacks with low carbs and high protein such as quinoa puffs, protein bars, keto-friendly cookies, and so on.
The plant-based food movement has caught on with the snacking preferences of a majority of consumers today. In fact, 2021 food trends will primarily be considered incomplete without mentioning vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian diets. With meat consumption on a gradual decline, innovative plant-based snacks are making their mark:
- Chickpeas and other legume-based based snacks
- Veggie and Soy Jerky
- Roasted Fox Nuts, Peanuts, and Mixed Nut Trails
- Berries Compote
- Oats Protein Energy Bars
- Healthy Grain Crispies
Snacks that are high on the Sustainability Index:
While immunity and wellness-promoting snacks cater to an essential facet of consumer demand today, eco-friendly labels are equally significant. 2021 food trends reveal a startling shift of consumers wanting to opt for snacks with ingredients and supply chain processes that are ecologically sustainable. An impressive percentage of consumers are even willing to forego the cost-constraint to a certain extent, provided that the snack label is sustainable. Here are some examples of snacks that are popular in 2021, on the sheer basis of their sustainability score:
- Seaweed-based snacks like Seaweed Crisps and Seaweed Popcorn
- Fiber-rich snacks made using the recycled pulp of fruits and veggies
- Snacks packed using recyclable materials like earthenware and bamboo
- Snack from corporations that implement eco-friendly practices like rainwater harvesting, use of solar energy, supporting local communities, etc.
Miniature or Bite-Sized Snacks:
Snack miniatures are in high demand today, especially amongst the younger generation. There are several reasons for their popularity in recent years. Firstly, these provide an easy grab-and-go option for commuters. Secondly, these help in controlling one’s intake as opposed to regular-sized snacks. This comes in particularly handy when you want to indulge your sweet tooth without going overboard. Yet another reason is the aesthetic appeal, particularly for teenagers and children. Some of the most-consumed miniature snacks today include:
- Organic Fruit Bites
- Gluten-free Grain Puffs
- Mini Cookies and Mini Pies
- Granola Minis
- Keto Bites
- Nutty Mini Crisps
- Veggie Crackers
As elaborated above, we have come a long way ahead of regular snacking choices. Today’s consumers have a distinct, refined palate and want to indulge in exotic, unconventional, and sustainable snacks. Lastly, the Covid-19 pandemic has popularized both healthy and comfort snacking, thereby urging brands to cater to both these segments with equal zest.