Today’s Top Snack Trends

The Food Channel has released its top 10 snack trends, one of its regular trend reports prepared in conjunction with CultureWaves, Mintel International and the International Food Futurists.

“These trends are meant to inspire your back-to-school snacking,” said Kay Logsdon, editor-in-chief of The Food Channel. “But they also show how people are eating today, with smoothies and energy bars functioning as meal replacements, and grazing with small bites throughout the day-sometimes never even sitting down to a meal.”

According to, the top 10 snack trends are:

Chip and Dip 2.0. New varieties and new flavors provide something different. Hummus and falafel chips or pretzel crisps are likely additions to the party snack table versus the traditional chip-and-dip duo. Trendy dips are healthier, spicier and often served hot.

Small and Sensational. Customers are eating more substantial snacks packed with protein as meal replacements, and eating them more often. For pick-me-ups, snackers are opting to grab a slider at Steak ‘n Shake or a Big Mac Wrap at McDonald’s, which should be an indication of a significant opportunity for c-store owners to promote fill-in dayparts.

Come dinnertime, they may graze some more, but by today’s definition, snacks may be all we need.

The Drink Shift. This trend is all about the “halo of health” around drinks made with fruit or antioxidants. A shift is occurring in snack beverages away from colas and energy drinks and more toward teas, lemonades, fruity organic waters and carbonated fruit drinks with interesting flavor combinations. Plus, there’s the trend away from high-fructose corn syrup and back to sugar that some soft-drink makers are spinning as a “throwback” move. Additionally, smoothie shop chain Jamba Juice has just introduced a line of smoothie mixes that lets consumers make smoothies at home.

Goin’ Nuts. Snacking habits are taking into account the healthy benefits of nuts, including nuts with granola, nuts and fruits and smoked nuts. Unique flavor combinations give customers the feeling they are eating healthily: for example, cashews with pomegranate and vanilla, and dark chocolate with caramelized black walnuts.

Fruits: The Low-Hanging Snack. The trend here is that new types of fruits are being welcomed into the mainstream. Locally grown is being redefined to mean locally sourced.When it comes to fresh, blackberries have been in abundance, and white peaches and white cherries offer more variety in some old standards. Fresh fruit is now the number one snack among kids aged 2-17.

Cruising the Bars. While granola bars are an acceptable emergency meal, bars are now offered in dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, soy-free, cholesterol-free, trans fat-free and casein-free varieties. There are even versions specifically for women and for children.

Sweet and Salty. Until recent years, the only way sweet and salty snacks mingled was when customers ate something sweet then craved something salty, or vice-versa. Now the barrier is removed. Customers are dipping pretzels in Nutella and eating fruit with a side of popcorn. These tastes are filling up the new-style vending machines too, where choices are increasing.

Yogurt, Redefined. The new gold standard for yogurt is the increased health value found with probiotics. Acknowledging the trend toward global flavors, there is Greek yogurt— among the healthiest snacks around. Icelandic yogurt is starting to emerge as yet another world player and new self-serve frozen yogurt shops are popping up everywhere, too. Although not new, yogurt continues to redefine itself and is definitely trending up.

Bodaciously Bold. Bold flavors are almost becoming regular, satisfying an urge for something unordinary. How else to explain flavors such as Doritos First-, Second-, and Third-Degree Burn (Scorchin’ Habanero)?

Nostalgia’s New Again. Any decent tribute to snacking has to mention the traditional Snack Cake: The Hostess Twinkie, the Ding Dong, the TastyKake, the Little Debbie.  As noted, “Anything that has lasted this long deserves a mention in the snacking hall of fame, even if it isn’t good for you.”


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