Consumers Go Veggie or Go Home

Salty-snack sales grow with innovation that includes healthier, alternative ingredients
potato chips

Snacks owe their growth in part to consumer sensibilities. Consumers want more options, and they want to eat them more often.

The category is such big business that tried-and-true convenience-store favorites ­potato chips, pretzels, popcorn and jerky‑ aren't even the biggest movers in the category. Healthy alternatives, such as chips made with vegetables, are enjoying considerable growth and revitalizing the category as a whole, according to Packaged Facts' report, Snack Food Nutrition Trends: Pulses, Vegetables and Grains in Salty Snacks and Crackers.

Poised to grow to $1.2 billion, alternative-ingredient snacks made with vegetables and grains such as chickpeas, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach, among others, are the product of not only increased incidence of snacking but also consumers' desires for healthier options.

"Looking at both present trends and toward the future, alternative-ingredient-snack sales are going to continue moderate to strong growth over the next few years, building on the larger healthier-for-you trend affecting the overall snack market and on the unique flavors and textures consumers are also craving," said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md.

From 2006 to 2016, the percentage of adults who usually snack only on healthy foods grew from 24% to 30%, according to Packaged Facts. Aside from the simple desire to eat more healthfully, the most important market drivers for this trend are demographics.

For any given category of snack, the percentage of adults with children in the household who eat the snack is 19% or more than the percentage of adults who do not have children, according to the report.

And it’s not just young families behind the growth in alternative-veggie snacking. Younger consumers are an important demographic driver. The gap between the percentage of millennials and Gen X adults who eat these snacks compared to those who are 50 and older is growing.

The report made it clear: This type of snack, almost more than any other, appeals to younger people. While novelty is certainly a factor, the reasons why a person chooses alternative-ingredient snacks are more or less the same across all age groups; the number of those who are 50 or younger who choose to do so is simply much greater.


Amount of adults who usually snack only on healthy foods

Source: Packaged Facts