KANSAS CITY — The pandemic has put dieting on pause for many consumers. Disruptions to routine, stress eating and increased snacking and baking have contributed to less avoidance of sugar, salt and alcohol and more difficulty sticking to a health regimen, according to new research from The NPD Group, Chicago.
An exception has been noted for those following lifestyle diets such as ketogenic, gluten-free and plant-based. Many new products on the market tap into these niche approaches to eating. Examples include grain-free snacks and cereal formulated with legumes for added protein and fiber.
New from Dream Pretzels are Protein Pressels, a baked snack made with red lentils, white beans and green peas that features the taste of traditional pretzels with a light and crispy texture, plus 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving.
“Protein, especially plant-based protein, is a hot nutrition trend, with research pointing to its role in promoting satiety, reducing disease risk, preserving lean muscle mass and more,” said Gilad Zilberberg, founder and chief executive officer of Dream Pretzels. “We know protein is important to consumers and we’ve come up with a great-tasting, better-for-you innovation snack that delivers. If you’re looking to boost your protein intake, Protein Pressels are a game changer.”
New low- or no-carb offerings, including a snack mix introduced by 4505 Meats and Whisps brands, combine meat and cheese in convenient snacking formats. 4505 Cheese-Charrones Snack Mix contains bite-size pieces of pork chicharrones and cracklins with Whisps Cheese Crisps, made from 100% cheddar.
“This collaboration brings together two of the highest velocity products in the snack aisle,” said Ryan Farr, founder and chief executive officer of 4505 Meats. “We’ve toyed with the idea of doing a snack mix for some time as I’m a big fan of eating keto and have had trouble finding variety in my snacks.”
While the percentage of US adults participating in total diet or nutrition programs declined to 43.8% in April from 48.3% a year ago, participation in keto and other specialty diets remained unchanged, according to The NPD Group.
“Nutrition programs, like keto and gluten-free, offer a clear roadmap that provide consumers a sense of control,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for The NPD Group. “On the other hand, indulgent, comfort foods provide an escape from increased stress levels and offer a simple splurge that is popular during challenging times. Both paths are coping mechanisms to managing stress and disruption.”
Weight loss and overall wellness concerns remain strong, however, suggesting consumers will return to nutrition plans eventually, Mr. Seifer said.
“How long the US will deal with COVID-19 and related economic concerns, however, will determine how quickly we return to healthier habits,” he said.