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What Snacks and Brands Are Consumers Craving?

New reports shed light on healthy snacking choices and salty snack trends
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Salty snacks
Mintel research shows that more than two-thirds of consumers are reaching for salty snacks during uncertain times.

A new report based on an analysis of more than 300,000 social discussions over the span of six months revealed that consumers are looking for healthy snack options from a variety of brands. Among other tools, the Miami, Fla.-based marketing agency SHARE Creative used name entity recognition to determine top brands cited in conversations about healthy snacks.

The agency found that Nestlé led the CPG pack by a significant margin. Behind Nestlé, other top brands that were mentioned for their healthy snack offerings include Coca-Cola for its sugar-free drinks, Quaker Oats for its healthy grains and Kraft for its plant-based products.  

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Consumers also cited retailers as influencers when it comes to healthy snacking. Here, Amazon was tops, followed by Costco, Target, Aldi and Walmart.

SHARE Creative also identified several trends in healthy snacking, and reported that taste remains a key driver, with consumers not willing to sacrifice the enjoyment of snacks. There is also a destigmatization going on in healthy snacking, meaning that people are buying healthier snacks to serve for special occasions and parties. According to the social analysis, interest in healthy snacks is across the board, coming from consumers who are parents, who are on a weight loss program, who are following dietary restrictions and those who just want to maintain their health.

Meanwhile, another new report from market research firm Mintel showed that consumers are also reaching for comfort-food salty snacks during this ongoing period of high-stress Reflecting consumers' dueling mindsets and seesaw behavior between healthy and indulgent eating, that report showed that 67% of consumers choose salty snacks while relaxing and to satisfy a craving. At a time of high inflation, price has ticked up as an important purchase driver: 43% of respondents said that price was the most important attribute of salty snack, while 40% reported that flavor and brand familiarity are their main reasons for picking a certain snack.

What kinds of salty snacks are people noshing right now? According to the Mintel data, the top-growing choices are cheese-flavored snacks (+6%), microwavable popcorn (+7%) and corn snacks (+8%) sectors, Circling back to healthy snacks, chips and puffs made from vegetables, beans or ancient grains grew 7% over the last year.

“As consumers increase their snacking overall, brands will be challenged to find a mix of the familiarity and newness that consumers are seeking,” said Kelsey Olsen, consumer insights analyst for food and drink at Mintel.

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