DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS – Once featured as a carrier for slices of cheese and flavorful spreads, savory crackers are beginning to stand on their own in the retail snack aisle, according to Innova Market Insights. The shift is due to consumer interest in sophisticated flavors, interesting shapes and textures, and an increasing focus on the perceived healthfulness of the products.

Innova data shows savory biscuits accounted for 10% of global new product activity in bakery products for the 12 months ended July 31, 2103. This is equivalent to just over a quarter of total cracker and cookie launches over that period, according to the market research firm.

“It is clear that new product activity is helping to drive the savory biscuits market forward,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation for Innova Market Insights. “With innovation designed to increase the product’s appeal as a versatile, nutritious and tasty snack, offering planned and impulse, on-the-go and at home options for a variety of social and domestic occasions.”

New product activity in the category has been characterized by a high level of interest in healthy options, with more than 40% of new product introductions positioned as a healthy choice. Health-oriented label claims include low-fat, organic, natural and gluten-free as well as added calcium or protein or functional benefits such as heart healthy.

Clean label continues to be an attribute for the category as well, according to Innova Market Insights, with more than 20% of the savory biscuits and cracker launches recorded globally by the research firm featuring natural, preservative-free or organic claims. The clean label trend is more prevalent in the United States, where Innova said the percentage of products marketed as featuring the attribute rises to almost half of all launches.

New or unusual ingredients are also starting to feature more often in product activity, adding interest or a healthier image or to permit gluten-free claims. Nabisco’s Triscuit brand was extended in the United States in mid-2013 with a Brown Rice Triscuit variety made with whole grain brown rice and wheat with pieces of sweet potato or red beans. Other U.S. introductions have included Blue Diamond’s Artisan Nut Thins made with almonds, brown rice and seeds.