The Next Generation of Healthy Snacks: 3 Things to Look For

  • April 4, 2023

  • Eyes4Research

Whether it is movie night, an afternoon pick-me-up, or out of sheer boredom, Americans really love their snacks. It is estimated that the revenue generated by the snack industry in the U.S. will reach $108.50B in 2023. And while many people view snacking as a guilty indulgence, more and more people are looking for snacks that are aligned with their healthier lifestyles and track with their overall wellness goals, and the market is catching up. As the snack industry opens up new lanes to satisfy demands for more holistic offerings, there are 4 things that consumers are looking for in their healthy snacks. 

1 – Sustained Energy

When consumers reach for a snack between meals, they are often looking for a boost to offset a mid-afternoon energy dip in the middle of a workday or after a long workout.  From crackers to cookies and even bread, a variety of products are targeting consumers looking for that energy boost, as well as focusing on other eating styles, like vegan, keto, and low-carb. 

Many of the products in this category contain what are called functional botanicals, like yerba mate and green coffee, which are plant-based sources of caffeine and antioxidant nutrients. These ingredients promote energy, and mental focus and support exercise performance. Many of the products in this category come in the form of nutrition bars, which often feature similar wholesome and botanical ingredients, and are ideal for busy consumers on the go. 

2 – Consumers Want Perceived Benefits

Compared to meals, or the components used to put a meal together, a snack is a perfect opportunity for brands to personalize nutrition, allowing consumers to select their preferred flavors, formats, and functions. Specifically, more consumers are interested in products with ingredients that will help them improve their health as they age. Called a ‘health halo” products like black bean chips, bran muffins, and protein bites that feature fresh fruit flavors are the ones consumers are reaching for to boost their overall well-being. 

Probiotic and prebiotic offerings are also popular items in this category, as consumers become more aware of the connection between gut health and general well-being. Probiotic yogurts are an example of this item that consumers are using to improve their gut health. 

3 – Bite-Sized Mood Enhancers

Besides hunger, consumers often turn to snacks as a way to boost their emotions– whether eating for comfort, in celebration, or as a way to chill out and relax after a long week. Snacks and sweets can provide a sense of pleasure and promote emotional well-being, and snacks with more exotic flavor profiles help satisfy that need for consumers. 

Seasonal or limited-time offerings also fall into this category, which gives a sense of urgency, encouraging consumers to try a product before it disappears from store shelves. Trader Joe’s is well-known for their seasonal items that often fly off the shelves, and even end up on secondary markets, like eBay. 

For consumers who are looking for a different approach to enhancing their mood, the CBD snack market is continuing to grow. CBD-enhanced snacks, like chips, chocolates, trail mixes, and granola are slowly gaining in market share and offer the same level of convenience that consumers are looking for. 

Holistic living and well-being are more important than ever to consumers, and that lifestyle is becoming more connected to the food that they want to eat. The brands that will shine brightly in this space will be the ones that offer elevated experiences that are in line with traditional offerings, so consumers can treat themselves without sacrificing flavor, texture, or optionality. Stay up-to-date on the food industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from general consumers and heads of households who make purchasing decisions on food and grocery purchases. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.