More and more Americans are allowing small nutrientrich snacks to replace their meals. The trend is partly due to consumers’ increasingly health-conscious lifestyle habits. Another factor is the fast-paced and busy schedule of today’s average American, which often leads them toward travel-sized pouches, dips, cups, snack packs and other on-the-go packaging options.
Among all 61 specialty food categories in 2016, Chips, Pretzels and Snacks was the third largest in dollar sales ($3.5 billion), a 13.6 percent increase since 2014. It also led the way in unit sales at 1.2 billion. Nuts, Trail Mix and Dried Fruit also landed in the top 20 at No. 14, with $1.4 billion in sales. Refrigerated Salsa and Dips fared equally well, bringing in $1.1 billion.
The popularity of snacking is pushing manufacturers to create innovative items with superior ingredients, sought-after health benefits and increasingly complex flavor profiles. And consumers are responding with their wallets, rewarding a category like Jerky and Meat Snacks with the third-highest sales growth (86 percent) from 2014-2016.
“Jerky has been getting bigger over the last several years, and it’s continuing with its momentum, and I think it’s that protein push again,” says Denise Purcell, co-author of the SFA report. “No one is calling it a ‘health food,’ but rather ‘better for you.’ And we’re seeing turkey, bison and a larger variety of jerky.”
Other categories of note are Nut & Seed Butters, which saw unit sales jump by 25 percent from 2014-2016; specialty Wellness Bar & Gels, which was among those with the highest market share at 47.1 percent; and specialty Rice Cakes, which increased its sales by 33.6 percent.
Yes, consumers are snacking more, but they’re also becoming more aware of better-for-you options, making snacks that are aligned with health and wellness poised to grow the fastest.
Each bold flavor from Jake’s Nut Roasters is made from premium almonds and roasted in small batches. Packaged in 7-ounce cans, flavors are: Bleu Cheese Cracked Pepper; Bloody Mary; Barbecue; Maple; and Mesquite Smoked Almonds.
800/255-1641 or JakesNutRoasters.com
La Panzanella introduces its newest addition to the Croccantini line: Bites snack crackers, which are half the size of its Mini Croccantini with twice the flavor. Available in 4.75-ounce resealable pouches in Italian Herb, Sundried Tomato Basil, and Spicy Olive. Retail $3.99
206/673-5048 or LaPanzanella.com
The Little Kernel is an heirloom variety half the size of a regular popcorn kernel, making it nearly hull-less and less likely to stick in teeth. It’s non-GMO and has six flavors: Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, Sweet & Salty, Cheddar and Butter. Smores will launch soon. SRP $3.49-$3.99
732/607-3880 or TheLittleKernel.com
The Everton Toffee Company continues a tradition that began in 1753: producing small-batch, handmade Butter Toffee Caramels and Butter Toffee Pretzels in Original and Pecan flavors.
917/687-3441 or EvertonToffee.com
The Savory Snack Size Gift Box features three 7-ounce canisters of hand-cooked Virginia peanuts. A great gift for the holidays. Flavors are Hot Southern Jalapeno; Savory Dill Pickle; and Honey Mustard. SRP $17
800/831-1828 or ThePeanutShop.com
Little Red Dot Kitchen’s Uncured Hickory Smoked Spicy Canadian Bacon Bak- Kwa is smoky, salty and sweet with chili pepper heat. A sofi Award winner, protein sources are raised humanely with no antibiotics or hormones. Most ingredients are non-GMO verified. SRP $7.99
408/673-8227 or RedDotKitchen.com
GeeFree’s signature puff pastry dough is glutenfree and comes stuffed with the following options: Sausage, Egg and Cheese; Buffalo Chicken; Cheese Pizza. These frozen items contain no corn, soy, antibiotics or hormones. MSRP $6.99-$7.99
201/724-1025 or GeeFree.com
Stoger Styrian pumpkin seeds from Austria are known for their superfood antioxidants. Snack on them or use as a topping in salads or baking.
978/621-9494 or StogerOil.com
Snack Factory, the makers of Pretzel Crisps, has launched a line of natural and dried Fruit and Veggie Sticks. Gluten free, non-GMO and free from added sugars, flavors include Apple-Strawberry Fruit Sticks and Apple-Cinnamon Fruit Sticks.
“The Dipper” from Xochitl is a stronger chip for dipping any of the company’s authentic salsas or dipping sauces without breaking, thanks to its perfect ratio of thickness to crispiness.
214/800-3551 or SalsaXochitl.com
Holly Baking introduces Cookie Brittle, a 2016 sofi winner, which is now available in a new flat top box. Unique flavors include: Chocolate Toffee, Cinnamon & Spice, Sweet Ginger and Espresso. SRP $6.95
707/588-0800 or HollyBaking.com
This 5.3-ounce carton of mini 3D Christmas Trees from Walkers Shortbread makes the perfect stocking stuffer or gift for any hostess. SRP $4.89
800/521-0141 or WalkersShortbread.com
RW Garcia’s Pulse Tortilla Chip has a fluffy crunch and unique spice blend for a punch of flavor. Ingredients include earth-friendly pulse crops, which benefit both consumers and the soil. Non-GMO and gluten-free, flavors are Black Bean & Garlic; Hummus & Red Bell Pepper; and Lentil & Turmeric. SRP $3.99
408/287-4616 or RWGarcia.com
La Brea Bakery, an artisan bread brand, recently launched Flatbread Crisps. Made from single-origin heirloom Fortuna wheat, they’re twice-baked for crunch. Flavors are Rosemary, Sea Salt and Smoked Paprika. SRP $3.99
855/427-9982 or LaBreaBakery.com
A little sweet, a little heat and a little salty. Rosemary Salt & Pepper Pecans from Sweet P’s Pantry are large crunchy pecans with a twist. Private label is available.
262/408-9831 or SweetPsPantry.com
This 6-ounce package of Lemon Cake Batter Cookies features deliciously moist lemon cookies drizzled with sugar icing. Each bursts with tart yet sweet flavors. One case consists of 12 boxes. Retail $5
510/317-8150 or TooGoodGourmet.com
As charcuterie grows in popularity, D’Artagnan introduces two new flavors in addition to its Pork Saucisson: Wild Boar and Duck. The air-cured sausage is made by hand in small batches with no preservatives, antibiotics or hormones. SRP $10.99-$9.99
603/617-8434 or LittleAcreGourmet.com