NEW YORK – Thinning is winning in the snack aisle, as food companies introduce thinner, crispier cookies and crackers. “Less is more” is the essence of the “thin” trend – less thickness means more pieces the consumer can eat for less or the same amount of calories as the original or thicker counterparts.
A recent addition to the leaner lineup is Mondelez’s Wheat Thins Even Thinner. The crackers are 14% thinner, allowing snackers to eat 22 crackers rather than 16 of the original Wheat Thins for the same calorie count.
Consumer demand for healthier options has driven this trend, said James Russo, senior vice-president of global consumer insights at Nielsen. The New York City-based company found that portion control is most popular in North America as a means of managing weight and staying healthy, so slimmer snacks cater to that movement.
|James Russo, senior v.p. of global consumer insights at Nielsen|
“Two trends are playing heavily into the ‘thins’ snacking trend, the first being the growth of health and wellness within the grocery food space,” Mr. Russo said. “Consumers are actively opting for healthier options in grocery. The second ties to a shift of how Americans are eating today. We are becoming a nation of grazing snackers as we shift away from the traditional meal times. Here is where the two trends collide – when it comes to snacking, consumers want both indulgent and healthy options. With this, the ‘thinning’ trend we are seeing in the grocery snack aisle reflects another way for consumers to indulge in their favorite snacks with a little less guilt.
“Pretzel thins, cracker crisps and even cookie thins are all fairly new options for consumers. This dynamic of healthy and indulgent has inspired brands to introduce healthier versions of their classic offerings with new products that address healthier ingredients, smaller serving sizes and thinner varieties.”
Last summer Mondelez also introduced Oreo Thins, a skinnier, crispier version of the popular cookie. The serving size for Oreo Thins is four cookies for 140 calories, while three original Oreo cookies weigh in at 160 calories.
“This seems to be the year of the thin cookie,” said Brooke Smith, president of Salem Baking Co., Winston-Salem, N.C. “As a brand that has been making thin cookies for more than 85 years, we know quite a bit about the allure of this style of cookie.”
Salem Baking manufactures super-thin Moravian cookies in an array of flavors like ginger spice and Meyer lemon.
“Thin cookies let you enjoy a few more cookies for fewer calories,” Ms. Smith said. “When the quality of a product is higher and the taste is more decadent and satisfying, consumers tend to eat less to feel satisfied. For example, our Meyer Lemon Moravian Cookie Thins have about 130 calories in a nine-cookie serving.”
Several companies debuted thin products at the 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo last May.
Mary’s Gone Crackers unveiled a new Thins line made with a gluten-free flour blend. Open Road Snacks introduced Sinfully Thin popcorn, a lower-guilt alternative to popcorn, in blue corn and herbs and spices flavors.
In the dessert department, Free For All Kitchen debuted Gluten Free Brownie Thins and Mrs. Thinster’s introduced Cookie Thins. Skinny snacking chocolate brands unveiled at the show included barkTHINS and Brown & Haley’s Roca Thins, which blend milk or dark chocolate with bits of buttercrunch toffee.
Trimming these treats adds to the consumer’s snacking experience and helps satisfy their desire for healthier options, Mr. Russo said.“Successful products in the snack category are products that are fun to eat,” he said. “Snacking is meant to be enjoyable – so looking at the trends in play, adding a sensorial experience through adding a bit of crunch without adding to the calorie or guilt count can be seen as a smart move. Today’s snacking consumer is on the hunt for something new, and the ‘thin’ snack trend allows consumers to continue to engage in their favorite snacks in a new way.”