Having it Both Ways

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Having it Both Ways

By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ - 03/17/2017

It should be no surprise that American consumers want to have their cake and eat it, too.

And increasingly, that cake is free of things like gluten, GMOs and high fructose corn syrup.

According to a recent study from IRI, nutrition and indulgence are the two things driving most growth of new CPG products.

It’s no secret that snacks have transitioned from indulgences to meal occasions. As such, consumers want their snacks to have more food value, but they still need to taste good.

Earlier this month, I attended Natural Products Expo West, which is the place to be to find foods with clean labels and nutrition claims that still aim high on the taste meter.

Meat snacks are continuing to grow in popularity, boosted by a demand for protein-rich foods, which together are driving innovation. Meat bars are coming on strong, with brands like Epic and Krave combining meat with nuts and dried fruit. Chef’s Cut is launching savory meat bars based on soup recipes, along with snack cups combining jerky with dehydrated cheese. The Frontier bar (pictured above) boldly shouts out its nutrition claims on package. And Duke’s (just acquired by Conagra) is rolling out brisket, along with new flavors for its popular shorty sausage line.

Snyder’s Lance’s Snack Factory brand displayed its new Veggie and Fruit Sticks at the expo, along with Dessert Thins -- slimmed-down indulgences in flavors like brownie and chocolate chip. Brownie Brittle unveiled its first gluten-free varieties. Clif Bar displayed a bunch of new things, including Luna bars, with less sugar and more protein, and ClifKid ZBars filled with nut butters, designed to support long-duration, low-impact activity.

Among savory snacks: RW Garcia sampled its new pulse chips, made with black beans mixed with corn to create a rustically textured tortilla chip in flavors including the unique Lentil and Turmeric. Popchips launched its new Buffalo Ranch flavor as part of its Ridges line of extra-crunchy “popped” potato chips. Snyder’s Lance showed its Cape Cod Infused kettle chips in Mediterranean and Fresh Jalapeno.

And popcorn makers did not disappoint, with Angie’s Boomchickapop sampling its latest flavors, Caramel, Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Kettle Corn, Dark Chocolate Drizzled with Sea Salt, Real Butter and Cheddar Cheese. G.H. Cretors added flavors to its organic line, and Tiny But Mighty extolled the virtues of its small-kerneled heirloom popcorn that produces an easier-to-digest snack that won’t get stuck in your teeth.

I saw plenty more at Expo West, and there was even more I didn’t see because there just isn’t time.

But it’s clear that center store snacking continues to become more healthy and even more delicious.