Consumers favour ‘anytime, anywhere’ snacks

10 October 2019

Consumers are increasingly likely to choose products that allow them to snack “anytime, anywhere”, according to Euromonitor’s findings in its Evolving Trends in Food and Nutrition research, released this week.  

The findings come as England's outgoing chief medical officer (CMO), Dame Sally Davies, calls for a ban on snacking on public transport and higher tax on unhealthy foods to tackle child obesity, in her final report released today. Calling for action across industry and the public sector to help government reach its target of halving childhood obesity by 2030, the CMO also recommended tighter rules on advertising and takeaways.

Globally, packaged food sales grew at a rate of 1.6% annual value in the period 2013-18 and continue to grow, with Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America generating the bulk of sales, accounting for almost three quarters of global packaged food sales in 2018, according to Euromonitor. Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa rank top as the regions with the best growth outlook, expected to achieve a rate of 4.0% and 3.7% respectively between 2018–2023.

Food manufacturers that address consumers’ busy lifestyles and needs are likely to experience “growth opportunities”, said the report, which identifies three key global trends in food and nutrition.

Value-added snacking

“While global snack volumes decelerate, value sales remain strong as consumers trade up to indulge in premium or healthier snacks with value-added benefits,” said the report. “New products that allow consumers to snack anytime, anywhere, or to choose permissible indulgence, are addressing consumers’ busy lifestyles and needs.”

Food brands are shifting to meet consumers’ time-pressed eating habits by offering products in smaller and more portable packages, often blurring traditional category lines. Launched last year, Italy’s Amica Chips Snack Pack, for example, costs €1, includes a bag of crisps, a fruit shake and a sticker toy for children. Innovations in pack size, ingredients and positioning range from organic and clean label to free-from gluten and fortified or functional product offerings, such as Ezaki Libera from Japan, which is a functional milk chocolate with astaxanthin that claims to reduce fatigue in the eyes.

Child-specific functional formulations (outside of infant formula) remain underdeveloped and have become a focal point whereby manufacturers could drive higher prices and value growth, suggested the report.

Clean consumption

Yet ultra-processed food is increasingly under attack, with consumers seeking natural and authentic products without artificial colours flavours or sweeteners, said the report. Indeed, 40% of consumers responding to Euromonitor’s 2019 Health and Nutrition survey said they are “trying to limit their intake of refined sugar”, while 27% said they “closely read the nutrition labels of food and beverages before consuming”.

The clean-label trend has seen leading food manufacturers including Nestlé, Unilever and Kellogg’s adopt new recipes to meet demand.

Plant-based eating

Global meat consumption continues to rise, despite the growing trend of plant-based eating in the developed world. In emerging and developing countries, meat and animal products are rapidly replacing other foods as the growing middle classes can now afford what was once a prohibitively expensive food.

In developed countries, demand for meat and animal products has slowed in part because of saturation but also in part because of consumers turning to plant-based alternatives due to growing health and environmental awareness, the report found.

In China and Germany, for example, more than 25% of the population are trying to limit their meat intake. Yet the global vegetarian population has not grown by more than 1% a year since 2010 and is shrinking as a share of the total 628 million vegetarian population.

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