Emerald Nuts 100-calorie packs, Snyder's-Lance
One brand still finding success in the 100-calorie market is Emerald Nuts. 

Healthy meets indulgent

At the intersection of indulgence and health is portion control.

Want cheesecake? Purchase a single-serve portion, and don’t worry about being stuck with the whole thing. Want something savory but not filling? Purchase a single-serve portion of baked chips instead of a large, shareable bag.

For many, it began with 100-calorie packs. While those packages found success initially, many failed to keep consumers coming back for more.

“The trial worked because people were looking for alternatives with fewer calories,” said Rod Troni, chief marketing officer of Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. “But the repeat buy wasn’t there.”

Bakeries and snack companies have since found out that consumers expect the same level of quality while counting the calories. Food producers shifted their emphasis from portioning calories to portioning quality.

One brand still finding success in the 100-calorie market is Emerald Nuts, a division of Snyder’s-Lance. According to Mr. Troni, this is because nuts are straight from nature.

“You’re not trying to Frankenstein the food,” he said. “The experience on taste and quality of product is such that you are less concerned about the size of the bag because the quality of the experience is so good, and as a better-for-you product, you get ­everything you want.”

Emphasizing authentic ingredients and not “doctoring” recipes to reach a certain calorie count translate to success when creating new portion-controlled products.

“People want to eat healthier, but they don’t want to give up that sort of indulgence, that treat for themselves,” Mr. Van Iwaarden said. “The compromise is that they’re going to get the same thing, but they’re just going to eat less of it.”

Within desserts, Ms. Lopez said, quality is the focal point.

“Maybe even 10 years ago, it would’ve been about nutrition and calorie counts, but right now we’re in a market where the new definition of healthy is authenticity,” she said.

The focus on delivering authentic flavor profiles doesn’t change because of the trend toward portion control. It enables consumers to take charge of their calorie intake and nutrition by letting them indulge guilt free any time of day.