- Healthy snacks continued a steady sales growth pattern with a CAGR of 4.7% over the past five years, outpacing growth of the food and beverage industry as a whole, according to a new Packaged Facts report.
- Supporting that growth in 2015 were categories like snack bars, with 34% of the healthy snacks market and $6.5 billion in sales, and nut snacks, with 30% of the market share and $5.8 billion in sales. All categories in this segment posted sales growth, with the highest being meat snacks (8.6%) and the lowest being dried fruit snacks (1.2%).
- The report predicts that the segment's market growth will increase slightly above 5% this year to $20.3 billion in sales. From 2016 to 2020, sales are expected to increase at a CAGR of 5.7% to a total of $25.4 billion. Meat snacks sales will play a role in that higher growth rate, with an expected CAGR of 9.6% during that time period, though snack bars are projected to remain the largest category.
The report outlines trends driving this market. "Free-from," particularly allergen- and gluten-free, remain popular claims healthy snack manufacturers make, which supports snack acquisitions like Mondelez and Enjoy Life Foods or Snyder's-Lance and Diamond Foods.
Protein is another key trend, which is clear in the fast growth of the meat snacks category but also for nut snacks and snacks that feature alternative protein sources, particularly plant-based proteins. Even companies as large as General Mills and Danone have recently expressed interest in plant-based alternative ingredients, including protein sources.
Innovative flavors have helped healthy snacks stand out for both nutritious ingredients and the ability to compete on taste against other traditional indulgent snack foods.
Using innovative flavors can be as much a marketing tool for healthy snacks as it can be an R&D strategy. Those flavors, whether they be ethnic-based, indulgent pairings, or combinations of heat and sweet, enable healthy snacks to catch a consumer's eye. Exotic flavors are also crucial to millennials, which is one of the main groups pushing snacking between meals or as meal replacements.
In addition to the general growth of snacking across generations, another trend driving sales for the segment is an increase in the percetange of adults who believe they snack healthier — 30% in the past decade, according to Packaged Facts.
The report also points out that manufacturers have a strong hold on categories like meat snacks (Link Snacks, ConAgra's Slim Jim) and snack bars (General Mills' Nature Valley, PepsiCo's Quaker, Clif Bars, Pure Protein, Post's PowerBar). But retailers' store brands and private labels top the nut snacks and trail mix categories, with a strong branded showing from Kraft Heinz's Planters.