Consumers have never been more health-conscious than today. As many as 67% of global consumers have changed their behaviour towards a healthier diet over the last two years, according to SIAL Insights, 2022.
The “clean label” trend is stronger than ever, driven by the distaste for unnatural ingredients or additives. Consumers are tired of long ingredient lists because they give a feeling of artificial and less than healthy food. Food must therefore be healthy, nutritious, and naturally functional. Today’s value-seeking consumers are also looking for nutrient-dense products that help them feel full longer, so clear labels with easily read nutritional information on food packaging is appreciated.
After the passive pandemic period and all the lockdowns, our busy and active lifestyle is back. This has enabled growth for the healthy snackification trend, as consumers crave convenient and nutritious meal options when eating on the go. According to YouGov’s Food & Health 2022 report, half of all Norwegians and Finns skip at least one meal (lunch or dinner) during a typical week. It is especially younger people who tend to skip meals or replace them with snacks or food on the go.
Snacks are no longer deemed an occasional moment of indulgence, where only little attention is paid to nutritional intake. Instead, people are very interested in the ingredients and evaluating the healthiness of the products to which they turn.
More than half of global consumers say that high protein claims make a snack healthy.
As consumers are well aware of the benefits of protein, ready-to-drink protein beverages and protein bars have grown in popularity. They are considered nutritious, expected to boost performance, and they promote a healthier lifestyle.
Protein-enriched products have expanded into new snacking and delicacy categories like ice cream, bakeries, and desserts.
Protein helps consumers find the sweet spot between pleasure and better-for-you features, so it gives the green light for indulgence. Delicacy protein products successfully manage to balance pleasure with healthy connotations: indulgent flavours + protein + fewer calories.
But in addition to healthiness, consumers are seeking snacks that are guiltfree. Many people turn to sweet treats when feeling anxious or stressed during these uncertain times, so deliciousness and the feeling of indulgence are crucial features in the snacking and delicacy categories. Without enjoyment, food no longer offers people escapism.
The taste of sugar and the craving for sugar is quite widely enjoyed. At the same time, the negative health effects of sugar are well known, and it is considered the biggest baddie in the food game. For example, sugar is perceived to negative when chocolate is used eaten in a hurry or as a snack, as it’s seen as an indicator of an unbalanced lifestyle.
In the Nordics, 25% of consumers decreased their sugar intake last year. 1)
In the US, up to 44% of consumers have reduced sugar consumption in the last year. 2)
In addition to the perceived benefits like high protein content, a low amount of sugar and digestive wellness, consumers are looking for snacks that taste great. Delicacies especially must meet the “healthy indulgence” criterion, as taste is the top priority in these products.
Also, quality matters. For example, besides the amount of protein, consumers are paying more and more attention to protein quality. Dairy protein offers a natural way to increase a product’s protein content – without compromising on taste or texture.
Keeping up with consumer trends is one of the most challenging aspects of the food industry.