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US Trending Flavors and Ingredients in Snacks Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Trending Flavors and Ingredients in Snacks - US market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • Fickle snackers ripe for experimentation
  • In a crowded snack aisle, let flavor be the difference
  • Next level interests point to consumers looking beyond “basic” innovation

Covered in this report

Sales growth across packaged snack categories is outpacing that of other center of store foods and drinks, pointing to not only the strength of the snack occasion but also the innovation that is happening. While momentum is positive, there are some snack categories that are performing better than others. Traditional formats are enjoying growth despite category maturity and some less mainstream are also growing, suggesting that a little flavor innovation can go a long way for both legacy and newcomers. Indulgence remains important, but rising demand for more flavorful, healthier and ethical snacks is at the core of innovation.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Mimi Bonnett, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

This report examines flavor and ingredient trends in the salty snack category, taking a “now, near, next” approach to identify current and future product trends – all based on consumer data. Taking a deep dive into flavor innovation, brands leading innovation layered with consumer behavior and interests in flavor exploration, this Report is a roadmap in product development and marketing from “mainstream” to emerging, cutting-edge flavors Mimi Bonnett
Director - Food and Drink, Foodservice

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Market overview
          • Top takeaways
            • In a crowded snack aisle, let flavor be the difference
              • Figure 1: Snack attitudes -- Health, November 2018
            • Fickle snackers ripe for experimentation
              • Figure 2: Snack attitudes, % of snackers, November 2019
            • Mainstream innovation must leverage familiar flavors for mass appeal
              • Figure 3: snack flavors currently consumed, November 2019
            • Next level interests point to consumers looking beyond “basic” innovation
              • Figure 4: Snack flavor experience and interest, tier two flavors, November 2019
            • The future is flavorful
              • Figure 5: Snack flavor experience and interest, tier three flavors, November 2019
          • Market Landscape – What You Need to Know

            • Snack growth continues unabated
              • Snack growth comes with movement into healthier options
                • Flavor innovation drives snack choice
                  • Alternative snacks ramp up to target younger consumers
                    • Flavor & ingredient innovation can propel growth
                    • State of the Market

                      • Strong overall snack sales growth
                          • Figure 6: Total US retail sales of salty snacks, by segment, at current prices, 2014 and 2019 (est)
                        • Innovation is leaning into BFY format
                          • Figure 7: Product launches by snack segment, change in percent of total launches 2018-2019
                        • With consumers, traditional offerings still dominate, yet niche snacks gain steam
                          • Figure 8: Snack Consumption, November 2019
                        • Young (foodies) are the catalyst of snack change
                          • Figure 9: Generational profile of snack eaters, by snack type, indexed against all respondents, November 2019
                        • Meat snacks enjoy strong growth
                          • Flavorful innovation in meat snacks
                            • Flavorful pork rind snack innovation
                              • Alternative chips appeal to younger consumers
                                • Alternative chips feature cutting-edge flavors
                                  • There’s a lot of territory to explore…
                                    • Figure 10: Percent of US snack product launches with top 15 flavor components, 2015-2019
                                • Mintel Trend Drivers – Mapping the Catalyst of Change

                                    • In snacks, flavor is a must
                                      • Figure 11: Snack choice drivers, November 2018
                                    • Younger consumers driving the shift to less traditional snacks
                                      • Figure 12: Snack Consumption, By Generation, November 2019
                                    • Wellness increasingly drives snacking habits
                                      • Figure 13: Snack Behaviors, Health, November 2018
                                    • Flavor = excitement
                                      • Flavor innovation in pretzels
                                      • Brand Landscape – What You Need to Know

                                        • Legacy brands and disruptors feed each other
                                          • Snack innovation should be rooted experience with some healthy nods
                                            • Now: New takes on classic favorites
                                              • Next: International influence crosses new snack borders
                                                • Pipeline: Future flavors will rely on connections
                                                • Brand Landscape

                                                  • Same goal, different approach
                                                    • A tale of two types of snack brands
                                                      • Figure 14: US: Instant reaction and purchase intent, new snacks from top disruptors vs new snacks from top mainstream brands, Jan 2017 to Dec 2019
                                                      • Figure 15: US: Attribute perceptions, new snack launches from disruptors vs new snacks from top mainstream brands, Jan 2017 to Dec 2019
                                                  • Product Development: Now – Current Snack Flavor Trends

                                                    • The mainstream is getting peppered with diversity
                                                      • Figure 16: Preferred snack flavor types November 2019
                                                    • Spicy and sour flavors meet in the middle to deliver experience
                                                      • Figure 17: Percent change in snack launches with spicy/sour flavors, 2018-2019
                                                      • Figure 18: US: Instant reaction & purchase intent for snacks with spicy and sour flavors, 2017-2019
                                                    • Brands in action
                                                      • Herbs
                                                        • Figure 19: Percent change in snack launches with herbal flavor component, 2018-2019
                                                      • Brands in action
                                                        • Some consumers shy away from grain ingredients for wellbeing
                                                          • Figure 20: Categories where free-from claims are sought, April 2019
                                                        • Brands in action
                                                          • Rising Asiago cheese flavor provides pleasure and adventure
                                                            • Figure 21: Purchase intelligence scores, Cheese snacks versus other flavor snacks, January 2019
                                                            • Figure 22: Cheese varietal growth on menus, % change Q2 2016 to Q2 2019
                                                          • Brands in action
                                                            • Everything bagel flavor revels in social buzz
                                                              • Brands in action
                                                              • Product Development: Near – What to Watch for Tomorrow

                                                                • Seaweed snacks connect to multiple consumer trends
                                                                  • Figure 23: Snack attitudes, ingredient scrutiny and ethics, August 2019
                                                                  • Figure 24: International food consumption – net any consumption, Asian cuisines, November 2017-November 2018
                                                                • Brands in action
                                                                  • Indian influence rises as snacks leverage adventurous taste experiences
                                                                    • Figure 25: International food consumption – net any consumption Indian cuisine, by generation, November 2017-November 2018
                                                                  • Brands in action
                                                                    • Popped water lily seeds leverage nutritional punch
                                                                      • Brands in action
                                                                        • Lemongrass delivers adventurous Southeast Asian tastes
                                                                          • Figure 26: Growth of US menu instances of lemongrass, Q4 2015-2019
                                                                        • Brands in action
                                                                        • Product Development: Next – What’s in the Pipeline

                                                                          • The free-from brand
                                                                            • Brands in action
                                                                              • Chimichurri provides bold Argentinian experiences
                                                                                • Brands in action
                                                                                  • Za’atar brings exotic experiences to snacks
                                                                                    • Figure 27: US menu instances of za’atar, percent change Q3 2015-Q3 2019
                                                                                  • Brands in action
                                                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                    • Spoiler alert: young foodies love bold international flavors
                                                                                      • Preferred flavors are increasingly influenced by social media
                                                                                        • Emerging flavors face familiarity challenges
                                                                                          • Consumers enjoy experimenting with flavors…to a point
                                                                                          • Snack Flavor Attitudes

                                                                                            • Snacks are a platform for new flavor discovery
                                                                                              • Figure 28: Snack flavor attitudes, November 2019
                                                                                            • Younger women are following flavor trends online
                                                                                              • Figure 29: Snack attitudes, % of snackers, by generation, November 2019
                                                                                              • Figure 30: Snack attitudes, by gender and age, November 2019
                                                                                            • Consumer segmentation by snack attitudes
                                                                                              • Entrée-inspired snacks become viral hits with Social Followers
                                                                                                • Figure 31: Preferred snack flavors, by snack attitudes, November 2019
                                                                                            • Preferred Snack Flavor Families

                                                                                                • Some like it hot, but not as much as sweet
                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Preferred snack flavors, November 2019
                                                                                                • Flavor pairings interest younger snackers
                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Preferred snack flavors, % of respondents, by gender and age, November 2019
                                                                                              • Now: Primary Snack Flavors Consumed

                                                                                                  • Most frequently consumed flavors led by barbecue
                                                                                                    • Figure 34: Snack flavors consumed, November 2019
                                                                                                  • Optimal snack flavor lineup banks on the familiar
                                                                                                    • Figure 35: TURF Analysis – snack flavors consumed, November 2019
                                                                                                  • Tangy flavors interest Hispanic consumers
                                                                                                    • Figure 36: Snack flavors consumed, % of snackers, by race/ethnicity, November 2019
                                                                                                • Near: Snack Flavor Experience and Interest

                                                                                                    • Trial and level of interest suggest that consumers are looking beyond “basic” innovation
                                                                                                      • Figure 37: Snack flavor experience and interest, tier two flavors, November 2019
                                                                                                      • Figure 38: Snack flavor experience and interest, tier two flavors, Net any interest, November 2019
                                                                                                    • Net flavor score defined
                                                                                                      • Herbal flavors garner universal interest
                                                                                                        • Figure 39: Snack flavor interest, tier two, net flavor score, November 2019
                                                                                                      • Millennials want it all but don’t neglect Gen X
                                                                                                          • Figure 41: Blue Diamond almond flavor innovation appeals to specific consumer segments
                                                                                                      • Next: Snack Flavor Experience and Interest

                                                                                                          • Interest levels indicate education is needed for tier three flavors
                                                                                                            • Figure 42: Snack flavor experience and interest, tier three flavors, November 2019
                                                                                                          • Net flavor score defined
                                                                                                            • Flavors of the future will be social
                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Snack flavor interest, net flavor score, by snack attitudes, November 2019
                                                                                                            • Lack of familiarity holds emerging flavors back
                                                                                                              • Figure 44: US: Instant reaction and purchase intent, snack launches with emerging flavors vs snacks with established flavors, Jan 2017 to Dec 2019
                                                                                                              • Figure 45: US: Attribute perceptions, snack launches with emerging flavors vs snacks with established flavors, Jan 2017 to Dec 2019
                                                                                                              • Figure 46: Emerging snack flavor interest, net flavor score, November 2019
                                                                                                            • Asian and Hispanic consumers open to new flavor experiences
                                                                                                              • Figure 47: Snack flavor interest, tier three flavors, net flavor score, by race/ethnicity, November 2019
                                                                                                          • Snack Flavors by the Mintel Food and Drink Consumer Segmentation

                                                                                                                • Figure 48: Snack flavor interest, tier two, net flavor score, by food and drink shopper segmentation, November 2019
                                                                                                              • Premium private label can act as a gateway to new flavors
                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Emerging snack flavor interest, tier three, net flavor score, by food and drink shopper segmentation, November 2019
                                                                                                              • Premium private label snacks with cutting-edge snack flavors
                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                • Data sources
                                                                                                                  • Sales data
                                                                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                      • Purchase Intelligence
                                                                                                                        • Mintel Menu Insights
                                                                                                                          • Mintel Food and Drink Shopper Segmentation
                                                                                                                            • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                • Terms
                                                                                                                                • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                                                                                  • Consumer segmentation by snack attitudes
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 50: Demographic profile of snack eaters, by snack type, indexed against all respondents, November 2019
                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                                      • Figure 51: Total US retail sales of salty snacks, by segment, at current prices, 2014 and 2019 (est)

                                                                                                                                  This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

                                                                                                                                  • Market

                                                                                                                                    Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.

                                                                                                                                  • Consumer

                                                                                                                                    Mintel's proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

                                                                                                                                  • Brand/Company

                                                                                                                                    Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.

                                                                                                                                  • Data

                                                                                                                                    Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

                                                                                                                                  Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

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