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How are shifts in consumer behaviour influencing the dairy snacking market in 2020?

time: 2020-05-08

Gone are the days of eating three meals a day.

Snack sales are experiencing an exponential growth rate as innovative, convenient, healthier alternatives hit the shelves to meet consumer demands for nutrition on-the-go.

According to Innova Market Insights, as snacks become healthier, more wholesome and satisfying, they are increasingly fulfilling the role of mini meals.

Here is a breakdown of three factors that are motivating consumers’ snack choices:

‘Better for you’ Snacking

In the past, snacking used to be an impulse purchase, often viewed as a rare, indulgent and unhealthy treat. However, this view has shifted significantly in recent years as consumers look to make healthier choices and increasingly acquire their nutrition from dairy snacks. Kantar, a market research firm, estimated that better for you snacks shot up 20% last year.

Consumers seek healthier alternatives with functional benefits and truly nutritious core ingredients without compromising flavour and taste. Pauline Cox, founder of Sow and Arrow said: “Delicious meets nutritious – not only functional but healthy too. Consumers want to know the health benefits of their food.”

With their essential health functions, dairy products are a perfect solution for this growing demand, providing an array of both tasty and nutritious options such as yogurt bites, cheese bars, and kefir smoothies. Rachel Eyre, head of Future Brands at Sainsbury’s said: “I think of it [snacking] as credits and debits: consumers are looking to make healthier and more considered choices. That means when they do indulge, they want to do so properly.”

There has been a noteworthy rise in the number of snacks containing new sources of protein and health benefits on the go such as Danone North America: Light & Fit Icelandic Style Skyr Yogurt being packed with essential protein and Twisted Healthy Treats Frozen Yoghurt Mini’s boasting real probiotics that proactively supports the gut and immune health. PJ Pawelek, Research and Culinary Innovation Chef / Scientist at Valley Fine Foods expects to see “more high-protein/no-sugar options, with important micronutrients and functionally healthful components, like fibre and whole grains, claiming a stake in the future”.

Balance is key: Guilt-free indulgence

The change in consumer behaviour has forced dairy companies to eliminate the potential for guilt by offering innovative, healthier snacking options that are more nutritious, organic and natural, without compromising consumer’s health goals, desire for unique flavours, ingredients or satisfaction.

According to market research company Nielsen, an eye-popping 1,780 snacking products were launched on to Britain’s shop shelves last year, with yogurt bites, yogurt bars and cheese combo snack packs, to name but a few. It is the ideal balance between enjoyment, health and convenience that health-conscious, time-poor consumers seek.

In an attempt to capitalise on consumers’ desires for healthier, more convenient yet delicious snacks, manufacturers are looking to reformulate traditional dairy products. Yogurt is a prime example of this, with unique products such as Clio Snacks strained Greek yogurt minis wrapped in dark chocolate and YAARS Nordic quark bars entering the market. According to the Specialty Food Association’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry research, specialty yogurt and kefir has $2.2 billion in retail sales and grew 8.5% between 2019-2020.

One trend brands are exploring is the pairing of traditional dairy products with confectionery in an effort to bring a nutritional element to otherwise indulgent snacks, thus creating balance within consumer snacking habits. Brands exploiting this trend include Sargento’s Sweet Balanced Breaks and Dairylea ‘Mini Oreo’ Snackers.

Purposeful packaging

The snacking market has boomed in recent years. According to Mintel’s Snacking Motivations and Attitudes 2019 report, 95% of American adults snack at least once a day, with 70% snacking more than twice a day. Eating multiple snacks daily is becoming a norm as lifestyles evolve and consumers become busier. They don’t need to spend time planning and cooking a meal but can grab and go.

As a result, it is clear that manufacturers and retailers need to provide a solution for audiences who are increasingly pressed for time, yet hold high expectations of food quality, flavours and formats. In recent years, dairy brands are recreating portable ‘on-the-go’ packaging variations to suit consumer’s demand for convenient and time-saving snacks. We can see drinkable yogurt cartons, portable cheese snack packs, granola topped yogurt pots and cheese combo trays designed for these active lifestyles.

More than ever before, consumers are reading packaging so they can make the most of their snacking moments and make smarter, more sensible and nutritional snacking choices. Clearly labelled products that declare probiotics, protein, no additives and less sugar are grabbing the attention of consumers and therefore adding competition among dairy products that will result in further innovation. 38% of consumers would willingly purchase a newly launched product if it had clear product information on it, according to research by Bizongo. The clearer, the better, especially when consumers want to ‘grab-and-go’.


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