Americans' appetite for salty snacks is apparently insatiable. The good news: More are turning to healthier alternatives to potato snacks, such as ones derived from pulses – legumes such as chickpeas, dry peas, some beans, and lentils – and vegetables, according to a report from Packaged Facts.
Families with children and younger generations are driving the market for alternative ingredient snacks.
Generic “bean” formulations are becoming more popular, but those based on chickpeas are the fastest growing subcategory for pulse based snacks.
There is increasing interest in the population at large for healthier snacks. But some stores make those nearly impossible to find amidst the shelf space dedicated to every-possible-shaped potato snacks. That's a poor reflection on Wal-Mart's buyers and others with lesser, but still impressive, decision-making power. As the world's largest grocer, Wal-Mart (and its Sam's Club cousin) should be leading the effort to satisfy the public's growing thirst for snacks that don't need to be followed, after a few nibbles, with huge quantities of water or another beverage because they are so salty.
Manufacturers have to take some responsibility here. They ultimately control what retailers stock – either through availability or fees paid to retailers for shelf space. If they were take it upon themselves to formulate some of that salt OUT of products, their world wouldn't end. If they appropriately advertised lower sodium (and even lower sugar) products, consumers still would want to buy them. The products might even gain their own popularity with consumers looking for better-for-you snacks.
The public is getting smarter and more conscious of what nutrition labels say and mean. But manufacturers still are, in too many instances, intent on pulling the wool over the eyes of a recently shorn sheep.
Manufacturers should be paying attention to what consumers are saying they want. A surprisingly large share of them aren't interested in the what they've been fed in recent years about products. They want, expect, and demand to be told what they need to know.