The snack market experienced an uptick during the pandemic, as many consumers found comfort from items like popcorn during lockdowns.
The global snack food market was valued at approximately $427 billion in 2020 and, according to ReportLinker, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.37% through 2026.
In our October report (set for publishing later today and available by clicking here) The Food Institute takes a closer look at the growing snack market, with insights from several industry experts to learn which snacking trends appear to have legs. Along those lines, below are some thoughts from Coco Carson, insights manager with ShareThis, a data company focused on mapping global consumer interest insights.
WHICH WERE THE MOST NOTEWORTHY SNACKING TRENDS THAT DEVELOPED DURING THE PANDEMIC?
Coco Carson: “I would say the consumer snacking trends that developed during the pandemic and have the most staying power are shelf-stable, portable, and sold in bulk.
Because hoarding shopping behaviors were so widespread at the onset of the pandemic, consumers are still stocking their pantries in the event that supplies are low again in an upcoming COVID wave. Although bulk shopping is down 30% [as of late August] year-over-year, it’s still above pre-pandemic levels by 37%.”
WHICH SPECIFIC SNACK PRODUCTS HAVE BEEN POPULAR OF LATE?
Carson: “The most popular mode of travel while everything was shut down was road tripping, which is still popular today. Easily portable, non-perishable, and filling snacks are at the top of shoppers’ lists. ShareThis saw online engagement with jerky increase an average of 16% month-over-month over the summer, followed by canned sparkling water (up 11%), protein and energy bars (up 8%) and dried and fruit snacks (up 4%).
IN WHICH WAYS HAVE CONSUMERS’ HABITS CHANGED REGARDING SNACKING IN RECENT YEARS?
Carson: “Certainly, as people look for snacks, there has been a great demand for natural ingredients and low environmental impact, with the development of a more health-conscious snacking aisle.”
HAVE YOU NOTICED FOOD COMPANIES MAKE NOTICEABLE CHANGES TO THEIR PRODUCT OFFERINGS OR PACKAGING THE LAST TWO YEARS?
Carson: “New brand discovery in food has completely changed. For sanitary reasons, samples are [less frequently] handed out, necessitating smaller (even individual) packaging, so that consumers can try new products before committing to larger packages.
At the same time, shoppers are still taking fewer trips and stocking up on their favorites, so companies are offering bulk sizes of those food favorites. I think the stratification of food packaging like this – sample size versus bulk sizing – will continue for a long time.”