A New Sweet Spot in Snacking

What do consumers want today? Healthy, portion-controlled and loaded with protein and premium ingredients

While a protein-packed cinnamon roll might seem unusual, it’s simply part of a new sweet-snack evolution that marries function with fun. With an eye on that healthy halo, consumers are mandating suppliers steer new-product innovation more toward real ingredients, natural sweetening agents, protein and portion control—all in core convenience o­fferings such as breads, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pastries, rolls and pies.

“More people are seeking indulgence in sweet snacks but wanting indulgence via single-serve options with real ingredients,” says Eric Richard, education coordinator for Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association.

Natural sweeteners such as stevia have added credibility to soft drinks, while dark chocolate rich with antioxidants has done the same for confections. So why not packaged sweet snacks? Case in point: Berwick, Pa.-based ingredients manufacturer Ingredion recently developed a prebiotic fiber to help bakeries reduce sugar in baked goods. It’s just the first in a line of similar developments.

“People are seeking ‘freefrom’ and real ingredients,” says Richard, “but it’s a challenge in a category like this where indulgence rules.”

$747.9 million

Sales of bakery snacks in c-stores for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 28, 2014

Source: IRI

Also, “bread has gotten a bad rap,” he says, for being unhealthy due to artificial ingredients and preservatives.

But that reputation is changing as more bread recipes integrate ancient and sprouted grains.

In addition to tweaking the ingredient list, suppliers are also playing with smaller package sizes. This makes sense, considering the growth in single-person households.

“Take a product like bread: Supermarkets or c-stores that offer half-loaves would score big points with these consumers,” says Richard.

Suppliers are also stepping forward to address other need states around packaged sweet snacks. One example is “hybrid” offerings. Sweet Middles sandwich cookies from Rich’s Foodservice, for example, are decadent, cream-filled soft sandwich cookies offered in smaller, bite-sized portions.

Richard says the category is seeking to boost morning daypart sales and retailers should work harder to align coffee, tea and juices with bagels, muffins and pastries to promote cross merchandising.