Snack-Food Needs Around 'Wellness Benefits' to Grow in Near-Term

NPD Group logo

CHICAGO — Once seen as guilty pleasures, snack foods that embody wellness benefits will continue to evolve in the near future to meet the needs of on-the-go consumers.

According to the NPD's Future of Snacking, snacks with more protein; portability, like single-serve snack foods that fit into busy lives; and unique and enjoyment, like unique flavor mash-ups is forecasted to grow in the near term.

The report also found that:

  • Indulgent snack foods are staging a comeback by bordering the line of healthy and enjoyment. Low-calorie, high-protein ice cream is an example of a beneficial snack food.
  • Brands that support moderation as a rationale to indulge are also benefiting, like thinner versions of cookies.
  • Consumers snack food choices aren't limited strictly to flavor: emerging attributes are snacks that encompass uniqueness and sensory elements such as texture, heat and aromatics.

NPD also found that Americans consumed nearly 386 billion of ready-to-eat snack foods in 2018, with the vast majority of those eaten between main meals. Additionally, snack food growth is happening at most dayparts with more use at meals and as meal replacements. 

"Snack foods continue to evolve both as between-meal snacks and as part of main meals," says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor. "Each of these snack food roles is changing in different ways in reaction to Americans’ desire for balance, portable snack foods, and holistic wellness.

"Snacking is no longer just about eating when you’re bored or eating for additional sustenance. Today and in the future, snacking is about solving small problems for consumers, and those problems present opportunities for food marketers across a variety of dayparts and needs," he added.

Chicago-based NDP Group's Future of Snacking shows what snack food consumption will look like in the future and the opportunities for growth over the next five years.