CHICAGO – A sign at the Sweets & Snacks Expo on Tuesday spoke volumes about current trends in the food industry.
The banner simply stated: “INTENSE indulgence … MINDFUL indulgence … HEALTHY indulgence.”
Clearly, snacking in a healthier manner is a consumer behavior that food manufacturers are looking to seize upon.
While some attendees at the event turned their attention to trendy products like gummy Nerds candy, powerful breath mints, or cannabis-infused beverages, items marketed as healthier-for-you seemed to garner the most attention this week.
Here’s a look at the biggest trends that were on display:
Several food manufacturers have their sights set on producing better-for-you desserts. Trü Frü, for example, appears to be gaining steam, judging by the best-in-show honor it won for its Natures Strawberries Hyper-Chilled Fresh in Ruby Cacao product. The brand also won an award in the gourmet/premium snack category for its Strawberries Hyper-Dried Fresh and Immersed in Crème.
While Trü Frü’s products are premium priced, they also offer consumers “smart” indulgence.
“I think what the consumer loves is the quality of the products,” Brian Neville, CEO of Trü Frü, told The Food Institute. “We take a fresh berry, we let it ripen on the vine, so all of the taste and nutrition comes to the height of freshness. … It’s only fruit and chocolate. It’s better for you but still very, very indulgent.”
HEALTHY PROTEIN SNACKS
Healthier-for-you protein snacks that utilize innovative ingredients, such as Quevos Egg White Crisps, also drew interest at the event. The Keto-friendly product received funding from KIND bar founder Daniel Lubetzky and was featured on TV’s Shark Tank.
The idea for the egg-based product hatched roughly four years ago, when co-founder Zack Schreier, a type-1 diabetic, realized eggs could serve as a key ingredient for carb-free snacks.
“As a type-1 [diabetic], I have to be really conscious about the carbs I’m eating,” Schreier explained. “And, for that reason, eggs were always my go-to, and I realized that those crispy pieces of omelet that go to the pan were kind of like chips but free of carbs, and we decided to make a snack product out of that concept.”
Hispanic flavors are gaining momentum with restaurant customers, on grocers’ shelves, and at The Sweets & Snacks Expo. With that, the winner in the meat snacks’ most innovative new product category went to 4505 Chicharrones premium Fried Pork Rinds.
Food company representatives on hand in Chicago indicated that the growth in such spicy snacks is driven by primarily by Gen Z.
Dana Ciesielski, a trade manager representing Jositos Chips, said “there has been a huge spike in demand for spicy products. Kids are just going crazy for it with TikTok challenges – I think it made a huge difference because they were doing different challenges on there, challenging how much spice you can handle.”
Editor’s note: additional reporting provided by The Food Institute’s Kelly Beaton.