Tracking new product development across the global snacking landscape

by Monica Watrous
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Hybrid snacks
Sweet bakery flavors are growing in global snack launches. 
 

CHICAGO — Hybrid foods and flavors are driving new product development across the global snacking landscape. Sweet bakery flavors, such as cakes, cookies and pies, are growing in global snack launches, said Kara Nielsen, manager of sales and engagement USA at market research firm Innova Market Insights.

Kara Nielsen, culinary director and trendologist at Sterling-Rice Group
Kara Nielsen, manager of sales and engagement USA at Innova Market Insights

“If you’ve ever shopped in the yogurt aisle and have bought a Boston Cream Pie yogurt flavor, you know it’s pretty common for companies to borrow flavor profiles from other parts of the aisle,” Ms. Nielsen said during a presentation at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 23-25 in Chicago.

Recent launches in the United States include Angie’s Boomchickapop frosted sugar cookie flavored kettle corn and Jelly Belly jelly beans that taste like pancakes with maple syrup. In New Zealand, consumers may enjoy a Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bar inspired by lamington, a local favorite featuring sponge cake with chocolate sauce and coconut.

Beverage flavors also are gaining traction in confections and snacks, Ms. Nielsen said. Coffee is featured as a flavor in new snack bites, chocolate and nuts.

Cold brew coffee snacks
Coffee is featured as a flavor in new snack bites, chocolate and nuts.
 

“There has been a big uptick the last two years in coffee-flavored snacks,” she said. “You’re certainly going to start seeing cold brew as a greater specificity of these types of flavors.”

A growing number of products are positioned for specific consumption occasions, such as a mid-morning snack or afternoon coffee break. On the rise are food and beverage launches with such keywords as “office,” “school” or “in the car.”

Such products may highlight attributes that align with consumer needs throughout the day, Ms. Nielsen said. Products geared toward performance moments, such as a post-workout snack, often feature protein and fiber claims. Meat snacks packaged for portable consumption, including sticks, bars and bites in resealable pouches, tap into a consumer need for guilt-free snacking at lunch, the gym or the office, Ms. Nielsen said.

Slim Jim meat snacks
New meat snacks are packaged for portable consumption, including sticks, bars and bites in resealable pouches.
 

“Meat jerky and snacks have been growing in a very big way, not only from the big companies but also the smaller companies that have been doing a lot of innovative things,” Ms. Nielsen said. “U.S. is a big meat snacks market, but China is a huge meat snacks market.”

Another top theme in new product development is the rise of global flavors and authentic cuisines. Street food flavors, chili peppers, and the perennially popular coconut and cinnamon are trending in mainstream snack launches.

“This is not just the American market,” Ms. Nielsen said. “We see a really food savvy set of millennials and consumers who are tapped into the world through the internet and their smartphones and really getting excited about all the flavors they see. They have a greater understanding of what a regional flavor is, where it comes from, what authentic cuisine is. We really see these flavors articulated in the sweets and snacks space.”

Lay's global flavors
PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay business, for example, has introduced several globally inspired Lay’s potato chips varieties.
 

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay business, for example, has introduced several globally inspired Lay’s potato chips varieties, including Canadian bacon poutine, Brazilian picanha and Indian tikka masala. Such products offer visual cues on the packaging to help the consumer understand the flavor profile or origin of the cuisine.

“When you think about the evolution of these global flavor trends, it makes sense that they’re coming from real food items,” Ms. Nielsen said. “If you think about your own discovery, whether it’s Southeast Asian flavors or other flavors from around the world, they often come from new spice mixes or seasoning blends and simmer sauces, then they move into ready meals, and now they’re finally trickling into the snack and candy space.”
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