KANSAS CITY — With snacking on the rise globally, food manufacturers are meeting consumer demand in increasingly innovative ways. Through new ingredients and flavors, companies are taking snacking to a new dimension.

Mondelez International, Inc., Chicago, analyzed consumer snacking habits and purchasing decisions in its fourth annual State of Snacking report, released in January. The survey found that maintained interest in snacking continues to increase, with 64% of respondents saying they prioritize snacking throughout the day over eating at standard mealtimes. Snacks also remain a priority, despite cost increases, with 89% of consumers expressing concern for rising prices, but 75% reporting that they “always find room in (the) budget for snacks.”

 “Snacking continues to be a way for consumers to connect or to enjoy a moment of delight in their day, further demonstrating our belief that every snack can be enjoyed in a mindful way,” said Dirk Van de Put, chairman and chief executive officer of Mondelez International.

Although consumers are reaching for convenient snacks in the form of bars, other snack categories, including cakes, chips, crackers, gummies, puffs, etc. , are growing.

In what Hostess Brands has called a “first-of-its-kind candy-bar-inspired innovation within the snack cakes market,” the company debuted Kazbars, which combine layers of chocolate cake, crème, candy crunch and caramel or smooth chocolate fudge. The cakes are covered in a chocolate-flavored coating and topped with a drizzle.

“With Kazbars, we have taken the best of Hostess, our iconic moist cake and creamy filling, and transformed them into a confection-inspired multi-textured layered snack bar with layers of gooey caramel, our chocolate fudge and candy crunch,” Daniel J. O’Leary, chief growth officer, said during a Feb. 22 presentation at CAGNY. “We are excited with the consumer response to Kazbars and see this as another proof point for how Hostess can drive growth through innovation.”

Food entrepreneurs like Soom Foods are taking spreads in a snackable direction. The company launched a bite-size snack version of tahini, the Mediterranean staple, which may be added to sweet or savory recipes for a creamy nuttiness.

Founded by sister Amy Zitelman, Shelby Zitelman and Jaclyn Horvitz, Soom Foods’ tahini bites are formulated with dates, oats, vanilla and sea salt, with additions such as dried tart cherries and cacao powders. The snack’s launch follows the brand’s debut into Whole Foods Market stores nationwide and a recent $2 million fundraising round to support new product development and expansion.

“Our goal has always been to bring tahini to as many homes as we can,” said Amy Zitelman, chief executive officer of Soom Foods, in a February interview. “Dipping our toes into this new category of grab-and-go snacking is our next step to make tahini products a staple in US kitchens and pantries.”

Other food entrepreneurs like Better Sour are launching their takes on classic snacks. The company will debut their globally-inspired sour gummies at Natural Products Expo West, which takes place March 8-11 in Anaheim, Calif.

The startup, which was founded by Bella Hughes and Semira Nikou and features flavors from the pair’s upbringing in the Hawaiian Islands. Available in two blends of a Middle East-inspired stone fruit mix that features pomegranate, apricot and plum, and an Asia-Pacific themed item that includes guava, calamansi and ume, the sour gummies are plant-based and free from artificial coloring.

“We’re positively obsessed with the flavor sour and are excited to create space for more diverse and inclusive flavors in our favorite category: sour gummy candy,” said Ms. Hughes, head of business development, who previously co-founded Shaka Tea, a bottled beverage brand that was acquired by King’s Hawaiian last year.

“We’ve noted a lack of innovation in the candy aisle, with even the better-for-you set focused on Western-centric flavors,” said Ms. Nikou, chief executive officer, formerly a senior associate at a Washington law firm. “We created Better Sour as a response to the rising interest in global flavors and heritage-rich brands. Better Sour is the candy for today’s multicultural landscape, self-described foodies, adventurous eaters — and above all, Sour Seekers.”

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