Snack Aisle

Trends in the Snack Food Aisle

Feb. 24, 2023
Families are framing how America snacks in 2023; Rudolph Foods' Mark Singleton explains what brands can do to help.

Consumer snacking. It seems as if there’s a new trend identified every day. And there is.

Consumers are changing faster than we, as food manufacturers, have ever seen before. Their families are changing, their buying habits are changing, how they digest media is changing. And when you think about it, Millennials, who are now parents of children with very strong opinions, are changing too, as a result of the influence children have on the family’s snacks and the associated snacking occasions.

Nielsen consumer research further supports this premise. In fact, smaller meals and snacks today account for 73% of all eating occasions. “Recharging” is the most common reason consumers chose to eat a snack outside of mealtimes. This offers opportunities to snack food brands to bring more intentional snacks to the market.

But, manufacturers also need to think harder about innovation as line expansions and extensions are conceived. Today’s families also are innovators, looking for opportunities to change up their lives with food.

Still, another impact on snacking is evolving as drastic increases in household income have grown over the past two decades. In fact, at Rudolph Foods, we’ve never seen consumers’ incomes so high. Today, one-third of our consumers have an average income of $100,000 plus. This fuels their knowledge of food, the brands they select and their opinions regarding what they put in their family’s pantry and on the dinner table.

Develop new products to hit changing needs

Consumers tell us they love our pork rinds for many reasons. In general, pork rinds help you feel fuller faster – helping to satiate hunger, thanks to the amount of protein per serving. Also, we hear all the time from consumers in the south as well as the southwest that they prefer to eat our rinds simply because they taste great.

But when Southern Recipe Small Batch brand of pork rinds launched five years ago, consumers were introduced to a new way to enjoy pork rinds, with more innovative and robust flavors, lower sodium and more.

This snack innovation is an example of how developing products that better meet consumer needs can open doors for a whole new set of younger, diverse consumers. And with education, these consumers will learn to become brand loyal to those products in the near future – as they have with our pork rinds today. In short, this case study is an example of how giving consumers what they want and need will pay dividends in brand love.

More intelligent buying decisions

The snack food category has the most educated consumer it’s ever had. Because of this, education around food, snacking and what they’re consuming has allowed the pork rind category to hit its prime as we check a lot of the boxes for consumers. We know this to be true by following the data.

When we do follow the data, we see that multipacks continue to grow, and family nights have returned. This should prompt brands to develop products that serve up opportunities for families to return to the kitchen -- and to the family room. It’s how America wants to live today.

Further, pork rinds are salty, crunchy snacks that provide reduced carbs alongside the protein families want and need to stay fueled. Throw into the mix a solid serving of collagen and reduced sodium wrapped into a versatile, savory snack, and you’ve hit a home run.

When brands use their market intelligence to serve a family or consumer group with flavor, product innovation, product extensions and even new places where the product can be enjoyed … that’s where manufacturers are finding fuel. As an example, we’ve brought more consumers into the category by rethinking how we serve up new ways to consume and use pork rinds.

By offering different types of cracklins, new and inventive seasonings, new places where consumers can eat pork rinds, including restaurants and baseball stadiums, and even by providing new ways to think of pork rinds as an ingredient in recipes, we deliver value while driving awareness.

Today, Southern Recipe Small Batch is bringing pork rinds to the condiment aisle with a salad topper. Krutones now allows the consumer to add a savory crunch to their salads and soups, without the carbs that a traditional crouton offers.

Perhaps we were once skeptical about such “out of the box thinking.” However, retail customers and consumers alike are driving a need for brand innovation. The successful brands, in both the short and long run, will be those that rise to the challenge. In short, innovation in both product development and how we think about meeting the needs of our consumers is the only fuel that will drive the success of brands and categories in the future.

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