Wellness Foods

Consumers Seeking Healthy, Convenient, Indulgent Snacks

Consumers look for snacks that answer their health, convenience and indulgence needs.

Health-conscious consumers want to eat better but often perceive healthy food as inconvenient and lacking in indulgent qualities. A report from independent market analyst Datamonitor reveals the desire to compromise these often mutually exclusive needs will increasingly drive demand for healthy snack food and drink.

More than 20% of consumers surveyed in Europe and the United States indicated they sought healthy options much more than previously when it comes to snacking. However, the report says that manufacturers will need to work hard when it comes to building up trust between themselves and the consumer with regard to how ‘healthy’ their offerings really are.

“Although healthy products remain a small percentage of overall indulgent snack releases, the indication is that a growing number of consumers wish to snack indulgently, but in a 'guilt-free' manner," says consumer market analyst and report author Richard Parker.

Busy consumers increasingly view snacks as a “quick fix” solution to their health needs.

Snack foods and beverages sit uncomfortably in the context of the consumer trend for health and wellness, often being associated with unfavourable nutritional practices. However, despite this, snacking remains an important part of daily eating and drinking behavior.

Today's consumers are better informed and more in control where health issues are concerned. This is changing their attitudes and behaviors at snack times, as well as main mealtimes.

According to Datamonitor, the growing market for healthy snacks is being driven largely by consumer desire to find products that can match their hectic lifestyles. Such products represent a quick fix to the dilemma of achieving a healthy diet within a time-scarce lifestyle, but without sacrificing the experiential qualities that make snacking so pleasurable.


Table 1
Healthy  2006 2011 CAGR
Europe 396.9 429.9 1.6%
US 442.4 482.3 1.7%
Europe 302.2 288.7 -0.9%
US 336.4 303.7 -2.0%
Number of per capita ‘healthy and ‘unhealthy’ snacking occasions , Europe and the US, 2006-2011









Health, convenience and indulgence are three trends pursued by consumers that do not sit together comfortably. Being "healthy" is often seen as inconvenient, requiring more time-intensive preparation, and as lacking indulgent credentials – not easily sacrificed for health considerations.

Datamonitor’s consumer survey in the United States and Europe in 2006 found that 60% of European and U.S. consumers had sought convenient and healthy food and drinks more in the last year. At the same time, more than a third had looked for small indulgences to offer them escapism from daily pressures with greater regularity.

Table 2

Question: To what extent have you done the following more or less in the past year? Sought food and drinks which are both convenient AND healthy


Question: To what extent have you done the following more or less in the past year? Sought food and drinks which are both convenient AND healthy
 Much less Slightly less The same Slightly more Much more Overall
Europe 1.9% 1.9% 38.3% 36.6% 21.4% 100.0%
US 2.0% 1.6% 35.2% 36.7% 24.4% 100.0%

Source: Datamonitor Consumer Survey** D A T A M O N I T O R

Traditional snacks are going healthy, but still face a skeptical public

Datamonitor’s survey revealed that 80% of both men and women in Europe and the US agreed that companies need to enhance the flavour and tastiness of healthy products. Parker comments, “Snacking is a strongly sensory-based and emotive experience, and is often a response to stress or a momentary form of escapism. If that is to be fulfilling in a healthy way, then the indulgent characteristics must still be satisfied.”

Producers and retailers are taking this on board – “health” is growing as a product claim amongst typically unhealthy snack categories such as confectionery and savory snacks, with those claims increasingly focusing not just on reduced fat or sugar, but on functional benefits (added vitamins, antioxidants etc.).

However, the report notes that credibility remains a key problem for the snack industry in tapping into the health trend. Snack foods and beverages with health benefits still seem counter-intuitive to many consumers and scepticism towards corporate messages makes it an uphill battle for traditional snack producers. Datamonitor also found that when consumers consciously select more traditional, impulse snack food or beverage options, health considerations are still not a primary influence on choice. Consumers are clearly aware of the unhealthy attributes of such products but are largely choosing to consume such products in spite of them, focusing on other attributes such as taste and indulgence/treating.

(Table 3 below gives information on the increasingly prominent health product claim in indulgent/snack categories. If you are unable to see this table, please contact the press office.)

Table 3: Health is becoming an increasingly prominent product claim in indulgent/snack categories

Products within indulgent/snack categories that feature “health*” as a product claim, as a share of overall new products in categories, 2001 2006
 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Europe 3.8% 1.5% 2.1% 2.9% 3.6% 2.9%
US 4.6% 6.6% 4.9% 6.6% 8.7% 6.5%

Source: Datamonitor/Productscan Online Database D A T A M O N I T O R

Parker concludes:

“Producers need to focus on building real trust between themselves and consumers through developing products that credibly offer health benefits and at the same time meet the impulsive indulgent needs that drive snack consumption.”

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