Launch numbers recorded by Innova Market Insights showed a strong double-digit increase in 2011 for the snackfood industry. Savory and salty snacks accounted for just under two-thirds of the total, and snack nuts and seeds the remainder.
Asia and Latin America saw the biggest increases in snack launch numbers over the year, with high levels in these relatively underdeveloped regions disguising lower levels of growth in more mature markets, particularly the U.S., but also parts of Western Europe. Launches in Asia accounted for nearly 40 percent of total snacks introductions, ahead of Europe with just under 30 percent. Within Europe, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands had some of the highest levels of product activity, reflecting relatively high per capita consumption levels in these countries.
Lu Ann Williams, research manager at Innova Market Insights (www.innovadatabase.com), Duiven, The Netherlands, feels that "despite the increasing competition from other snacks, savory snacks and nuts are more than holding their own, largely via growing emphasis on authenticity, originality, strong and exotic flavors and more convenient packaging concepts, often supported by a healthy or natural angle and strong branding.
"Overall, despite the often fairly low level of interest in health in purchasing decisions for impulse products such as snacks, nearly 40 percent of launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2011 had a health positioning of some kind," she explains. "This is mainly with regard to passive benefits, such as whole-grain, organic, gluten-free or low and light, but also to a much lesser degree active benefits, such as vitamin- and mineral-fortification, omega-3 fatty acids or bone health. This rises to over 60 percent in the U.S.
"The rise of gluten-free products has also been fairly dramatic, with nearly 10 percent of global snacks launches using that platform in 2011, rising to over 20 percent in the U.S. The number of gluten-free launches internationally trebled over a five-year period."