How snacks are taking on a dynamic new twist

When we think of having a snack there’s often the dilemma of ‘healthy’ or ‘indulgent’. Traditionally, that could mean a piece of fruit, or a bag of crisps.

But now the snack market is opening up, with local influences driving diversity, and increasingly healthier options available that mean snacks can now be healthy, indulgent and authentic at the same time.

Corn chips

Snacks has largely been regarded as a traditional segment, but the last decade in particular has seen converging trends give rise to an explosion in new thinking in what forms the ‘snack’ takes.

Consequently, the flavoured snacks sector is now increasingly dynamic. 

Here we spotlight recent developments in mature and emerging markets, which reveal regional differences, but share one undeniable commonality: that change is a factor for growth.

Clean labelling and healthier snacks

In Europe, Africa and Middle East, traditional snack favourites, such as potato crisps, still hold sway, particularly in Western Europe. However, choice and variety has opened up on all fronts, due to a number of reasons, often with a nutritional focus. 

A major factor has been health and wellness-related issues, such as directives to reduce sodium levels and consumers’ desire for clean labelling. There’s also a demand for low-calorie snacks, which has meant breaded and baked products have grown as an alternative to fried snacks.

Givaudan’s TasteSolutions® programme helps to reduce salt, fat and sugar whilst providing balanced flavour profiles. Improving low-fat snack bases represents an important capability: the understanding of succulence as key to the eating experience, one of the areas supported by TasteSolutions® Richness.

Building back the mouthfeel experience of a regular snack product provides a contribution to improving low fat snacks’ consumer appeal. As we see a move to more baked and ‘air-popped’ snacks, using TasteSolutions® Richness tools to create in-dough mouthfeel and succulence effects will be key to increasing consumer acceptance of low fat snack products.

Sophisticated palates

But equally, consumers today are concerned with authenticity, as people are travelling more, and developing increasingly sophisticated palates through experiencing different cuisines. Young adults, in particular, want more daring concepts, and are looking for exotic tastes in their snacks, or even fusion, where flavours are twisted together to create something very unique.

Our TasteSolutions® Richness programme is about recreating authenticity, with the kind of taste profiles that consumers associate with home-cooking. This appeals to customers who want to meet consumers’ desires for a wider range of local tastes in their snacks, and with TasteSolutions® Richness, we’re able to bring a new dimension in rich, complex and authentic flavours to bear.

A culture of snacking in Asia

In Asia Pacific the dynamism of the Snacks market reflects the importance of local flavours. Snacking is embedded in Asian culture, as it’s regarded as a way of eating through the day, ranging across different types of nuts and seeds to foods and preserves and into the processed snacking products, such as rice crackers and cassava chips.

In the processed snack space new, modern formats are fuelling the growth and consumption in Asia. A primary driver in the region is a new demand for ‘western style’ snacks, typically made of potato or wheat. Interestingly, while western flavours are growing in popularity, our customers in the region are also taking local flavours, and adding those into the mix. As is seen in other regions, there is a strong desire for authenticity and familiarity in flavoured snack products.

Western flavours, particularly amongst young adults are an aspirational statement in Asia, with American, European and Mediterranean flavours occupying this space. The twist in Asia is that elements of exciting international taste profiles are layered on, but the core of the flavour still has to be essentially Asian. With a truly global palette to draw on, our ability to blend global and local flavours means that we can satisfy this desire for hybrid snacks.

Trekking for discoveries

To feed this need for a profusion of regional flavours, Givaudan is focusing on what we call ‘the flavours of indulgence’. In recent times we have undertaken CulinaryTrek® programmes in China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea and the Philippines to better understand these cuisines by identifying nuances of cooking styles and the different ingredients, spices and herbs that go into developing unique regional flavours.

With our capabilities and our appetite for discovery, we’re able to really capture the tastes of these cuisines and present our customers with a rich palette of flavour options. This in turn gives them the opportunity to fulfil the needs of consumers in Asia, who want innovative snacks that push the boundaries of their taste experiences.

What we’re seeing in Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia is also reflected in our other regions in North America and Latin America. With our range of proprietary solutions, including TasteSolutions® and TasteEssentials® we’re able to implement targeted strategies that meet the current and future needs of snacking consumers the world over.