DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS – Popped snacks are an up and coming segment of the snack market and have global potential, according to Innova Market Insights. Global launches of popcorn recorded by the market research company rose over 8% in the 12 months ended June 2014 and outpaced total global snack launches by three percentage points during that time.

“Ready-to-eat popcorn has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the snacks market in many countries in recent years, having had something of a makeover to promote healthier, clean-label snacks in a wide range of increasingly sophisticated flavors,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.

More than half of the popcorn introductions recorded globally in the 12 months ended in June were positioned on a health platform, rising to over 78% in the U.S. Products perceived as natural was a key segment, according to Innova, with over 28% of global launches using either a natural or additive-, preservative-free claim.

In Europe, there has been considerable activity in the market in recent years. In the United Kingdom, the Butterkist brand, which is owned by the Tangerine Confectionery company, was re-launched in 2012. In Germany, the Intersnack Group, Dusseldorf, entered the microwave popcorn market in 2012 and extended its product line in 2014 with the introduction of ready-to-eat Pop Corners. In France, Benenuts, a PepsiCo brand, launched three popcorn varieties under the Apero banner.

“While the U.S. popcorn market is very well developed, this is not the case in many other countries and regions, notably Europe, so there are considerable opportunities,” Ms. Williams said. “While the traditional popping corn market is unlikely to catch on because of its relative inconvenience to prepare and the need for cleaning up afterwards, microwave popcorn offers fun, convenience and a fresh, hot, home-made product for sharing among family and friends and different age groups.”