American consumers are snacking more than ever thanks to less frequent restaurant dining, frenzied lifestyles that encourage on-the-go eating, and a growing tendency to replace meals with smaller, more frequent snacks. Nationwide, 50 million consumers who often snack between meals agree that “salted snacks are my favorite snack,” and 90 percent of households report eating salty snacks in the past 30 days, according to Salty Snacks in the U.S., a report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.
Underpinning the success of snack foods are the strides marketers have made in developing healthier salty snack foods that still taste good. As a result, there is a cadre of 14 million “healthy” salty snackers who exercise often, seek out healthy-ingredient foods of all kinds, and do not see a conflict between craving salty snacks and pursing a healthy snacking diet.
According to Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle, part of salty snacks’ metamorphosis into better-for-you products has been a change in product labeling that mirrors that for other better-for-you positioned foods such as fruit- and nut-based snacks. Salty snacks now often call out attributes such as “non-GMO,” “vegan,” or “organic.” They also often are labeled more subjectively as being “local,” “pure,” “real,” “natural,” “safe,” “clean,” “minimally processed,” and “allergy-friendly.”
Packaged Facts projects that a number of factors will converge to generate faster growth for the salty snacks market during the upcoming 2014–2018 period. Marketers will continue to add more healthy-ingredient products to the salty snack segment to meet demand, including offerings from niche entrepreneurial companies that focus on bringing innovative health-ingredient salty snacks to consumers.