New Food Products / Snack Foods

Top Consumer Snack Trends 2012

The National Confectioners Association notes trends in confectionery and snacks for 2012 are pushing new boundaries.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

"Trends in confectionery and snacks for 2012 are pushing new boundaries," says Larry Graham, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Confectioners Association. "As consumer palates become more complex, flavor profiles across the industry are doing the same. People are looking beyond borders and convention for what's next; whether is crunchy snacks with Asian or Mediterranean influences, the growing popularity of all things salty and sweet, or tropical fruit flavors such as mango."

"The sweet and snack food market makes $80 billion a year in sales, accounting for about 10 percent of total store sales in the U.S. and $357 billion a year worldwide," says Susan Whiteside, association vice president of communications. Roughly 30 percent of annual sales can be attributed to products that came out within the last two years, she said. Last year alone, 4,600 products launched and nearly half made their mass debut at the expo.

2012 Confectionery and Snack Trends

  • Shareable Affordable Sweets; Share Bags (stand up bags) to share with family and friends and informally gift to others – and theatre boxes are becoming more widely available at retail
  • Perfect Pairings: Sweet & Salty – There are a variety of new products with this flavor coupling, from milk chocolate-covered raisins and peanuts to cinnamon sugar popcorn, chocolate-covered pretzels, potato chips and bars
  • Flavors Beyond Borders – Snacks with Middle Eastern, Asian and Mediterranean-influenced flavors are popping up on store shelves. A number of snacks coming to market are based on chickpeas, lentils and seaweed
  • Mango Mania – A new generation of tropical fruit flavors, with mango leading the way. Pairing mango with pineapple, orange, coconut and strawberry to create new confectionery flavors is gaining popularity, but tropical fruit is also making its way to the snack aisle, from freeze dried fruits to mouth-watering salsas
  • Packing a Healthy Punch – Healthy snacking continutes to gain momentum this year. Nutritional health bars are the top growing snack item, according to Symphony IRI (52 weeks ending, March 18, 2012). Many new snacks provide a variety of health attributes, whether gluten-free, all natural, made from whole grains, or including B vitamins and antioxidants, there's no doubt consumers can find a snack packing the healthy punch they want.