Candy, snacks evolve for consumers making ingredient-focused choices
People love candy and snacks for all types of reasons. For some, it’s all about sitting down with their favorite comfort foods after a stressful day. Others view candy and snacks as treats they allow themselves to have on special occasions. And for a growing group, they want to incorporate better-for-you snacks and candy into their daily food routine.
Throw a global pandemic into the mix and other reasons for purchasing snacks and candy begin to emerge. For instance, Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay’s recent U.S. Snack Index survey earlier this year found that an overwhelming majority of respondents are turning to their favorite snack or treat as a way to preserve some level of normalcy in their lives during the COVID crisis.
With increased access, people are snacking around the clock and, after a year of indulging, are discovering the importance of snacking smarter. Manufacturers are trying to meet these evolving needs in a variety of ways. Some are creating new brands while others are extending the forms and formulas within existing brands.
Shifting purchasing habits
Consumer shopping trips may have been down due to the pandemic, but spending per trip was up. While shoppers may have turned to larger pack sizes to help ensure their favorite candy and snacks were always on hand, they were sticking to their budget more so than usual, which meant their shopping behavior this past year was less impulsive than is typically seen.
Based on retail sales data, snack consumption has dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic.
During a March conference call with analysts, Mark Clouse, president and CEO of Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Soup, said looking at the second quarter sales for this year compared with last year, segments such as salty snacks, including its Goldfish brand saw “meaningful share improvement.” Specifically, Clouse said the company’s snack business unit sales grew 4% in the second quarter to $979 million. Growth was notably attributed to such brands as microwave popcorn hit Pop Secret, Cape Cod and Kettle potato chips, and Late July Organic Snacks. The latter brand, which uses organic and non-GMO ingredients, comes in a variety of gluten-free, vegan and kosher offerings.
“Our performance was again fueled by our power brands, which grew dollar consumption by 8% over the previous year,” Clouse said during the call. “Within the power brands, our salty snack brands grew dollar consumption by double digits and realized share growth.”
By focusing on new ways for consumers to enjoy snacks, Clouse said the company was able to substantially grow interest in its Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse line as well. Consumers, it seems, loved the idea of incorporating Goldfish into movie nights at home or as part of a lunchtime offering, he said.
[Read More: Candy makers eye healthy, premium options while extending existing lines]
Hold the Salt
With COVID expected to remain part of our lives for the foreseeable future, experts predict more people will turn their attention to snacks that support their health. In fact, much of the innovation is coming from better-for-you snacks made with functional ingredients, including high fiber, whole grains, plant-based protein and free-from benefits, as well as satiating ingredients such as ancient grains.
“Snacking has turned into a way of life for so many during COVID,” said Janet Levi, public relations manager at Shrewd Food, located in Hauppauge N.Y. “It’s natural for people to turn to food to feel better, but now that the pandemic has reached the one-year mark, people are realizing they need to choose their snacks more wisely.” Shrewd Food’s Protein Puffs, Protein Croutons, Protein Dippers, Keto Dippers and Protein Cookies provide meaningful amounts of protein, and all but the cookies have significantly low carbs.
As people look to make healthier decisions, they are finding that they don’t have to give up taste for health, Levi said. “The functional snack category is on fire. People are snacking smarter today and gravitating to options that are crunchy, satisfying and are satiating.”
[Read More: Still snacky: New candy, snack products build sales]