Grabbing the opportunity: Snacking NPD undergoes health transformation

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24 Sep 2018 --- Consumers are increasingly seeking food options that are suitable for on the go consumption, as well as being nutritious. Traditional fast-food snacks may fall short as healthful demands prevail, spurring ample NPD and innovation in an array of market areas. Nutrition on the go is becoming more achievable as healthier foods package themselves in on the go friendly formats, as well as established snacking options undergoing healthy transformations.

A survey by Welch’s Global Ingredients group’s found that 92 percent of Millennials reach for a snack instead of having breakfast, lunch, or dinner at least once a week. As for why Millennials tend to engage in this eating habit, the survey found that 39 percent of respondents are too busy to sit down and eat a meal.

On average, one in four adults and one in five children eat meals out at least once a week, Helena Gibson-Moore, Nutrition Scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation tells NutritionInsight. This behavior is having an impact of nutritional intake: “It is estimated from survey data that around a quarter of adults’ calories come from food eaten outside the home. Compared with meals prepared and eaten at home, those eaten outside of home tend to have higher levels of fat, saturated fat, added sugars, salt and lower levels of fruit and vegetables and vitamins and minerals,” she explains.

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Public Health England's Nutrition on the Go campaign
also featured social media adverts.

“This increase in meals and snacks eaten outside of the home, particularly the easy availability and low cost of some of the higher fat, salt and sugars choices, has been shown as an important factor contributing to rising levels of overweight and obesity,” she adds.

Megan Rossi, Registered Dietician and Research Fellow at Kings College London, Department of Nutritional Sciences echoes the sentiment that busier lifestyles can have a damaging effect on health: “Increased additive intake, decreased whole fresh food and decreased plant-based diversity. All of these things can occur when people eat on the move, and they all can have potential negative impacts on gut microbiota and health,” she tells NutritionInsight.

In light of the changing face of societal eating habits, Public Health England (PHE), earlier this year launched a “Nutrition on the Go” campaign, in an effort to increase public perception of caloric intake, movement and making the right choice – especially while on the move. The campaign features images that emphasize the necessity of healthier choices, as many easy to grab options are calorie laden and lack key nutrients.

The campaign provides adults with a simple tip to help them make healthier choices while out and about – aim for 400-600-600. In other words, aim for 400 calories at breakfast, 600 at lunch and 600 at dinner, plus a couple of healthier snacks and drinks in-between. PHE has encouraged large food companies such as Greggs, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway offer meals at 400 and 600 calories to aid shoppers in their quest for health.

Industry NPD responds to the call for healthier options
Although many foods suitable for consumption on the go feature high levels of calories and saturated fats and sugars, Innova Market Insights data notes the nutritional content of snack foods is changing in terms of protein content, fiber, vitamins and minerals, mirroring consumer demand for healthier options. The ongoing strength of the high protein trend, which is about satiation, is also illustrative of this shift.

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The market researcher highlights that there was a 25 percent increase in fruit and vegetables marketed with a “snack” claim from 2012 to 2016. This increase was potentially in response to consumer calls to re-package healthy foods in snacking formats. We see examples of healthy snacks being packaged in pouches with nozzles, tubs with dips such as hummus separate on top and resealable packs.

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Healthy snacking options are growing,
with innovative packaging transforming healthy
foods into snacks.

One category to illustrate the diversification of snacking is the meat snacks category, which has profoundly benefited from the high protein trend. 

Stryve Biltong, a gourmet beef biltong company based in Texas, offers a high-protein, high-quality, cured and sliced beef, chicken and turkey bites. Biltong touts its product as a clean ingredient and paleo friendly alternative to traditional beef jerky that is high in protein with little to no carbohydrates, sugar, or nitrates/additives. This is a clear example of a typical snack undergoing a healthy transformation.

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Elmhurst's SIG carton is optimized
for on the go consumption.

The company has recently secured a US$10 million investment from Meaningful Partners to accelerate manufacturing capacity and brand growth. Speaking on this topic, Jake Capps, Founder of Meaningful Partners says, “We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with the outstanding team at Stryve Biltong. They have a differentiated and phenomenal tasting product that is truly good for you in a fast-growing snack category. We have great confidence that the team will continue to grow Stryve to become a leading meat snack company offering specialty products, including biltong, to grocery, mass, club and convenience stores nationwide who are seeking a healthy snack alternative with a clean label and incredible taste.”

“For our sliced biltong, our pouches are slightly smaller than other meat snacks on the market with the intent to make it easier to pack in a bag or take on the go. They’re also resealable so you can enjoy at your convenience and always have a fresh bite,” Paige Brown, Director of Marketing at Stryve Biltong tells NutritionInsight.

On the other side to the meat spectrum, Elmhurst has launched a plant-based protein drink packaged in a SIG carton, optimized for consumption on the go. The shake refers to itself as “The Cleanest Protein Shake on the Planet,” tapping into the vegan trend and touting free from artificial ingredient status.

The new pack from Elmhurst, in collaboration with SIG, also features a scannable code which allows consumers to explore hidden content. The augmented reality (AR) content delivers details that hope to emphasize that the beverage is vegan. Along the AR journey, there will be information about the sustainability of SIG cartons as well as an opportunity for the consumer to take a picture with a personalized face filter to share on social media. This connected packaging aspect also taps into other overarching market trends, such as digitalization, increased concern over sustainability and connectivity.

Similarly tapping into the need for convenient plant-based nutrition is Revolicious: clean label, plant-based smoothie bowls with a packaging system optimized for grab-and-go use with a separate body and lid for toppings. Such a product fits in clearly with consumers trends, but is an innovative and fresh approach to snacking.

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Plant-based smoothie bowls marketed as being
perfect for consuming on the move.

Revolicious founder, Jessica Barac, tells NutritionInsight that the increasingly busy lives of consumers has left them looking for healthy and convenient foods. “We have created the first product of its kind globally: Grab & go Smoothie Bowls with a 30-day shelf life. We noticed a real gap in the market for breakfast on the go that is nutritious and satiating.”

What goes into the product is also extremely important, Barac continues, as “seven out of ten people now read nutritional nutrition labels and want to recognize the ingredients that are going into the food they eat. The market is very discerning and looking for clean label, convenient, delicious and healthy snacks that give them sustained energy. We are also seeing a huge number of people identifying themselves as vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian – the market is responding with huge amounts of NPD to cater to these groups.”

Indeed, in terms of a healthier reformulation in NPD, until November 2017, four percent of snack launches tracked globally featured a low fat claim and six percent of total snacks carried a no trans fats claim, as reported by Innova Market Insights. At the same time, the percentage share of sugar claims (low sugar/no added sugar/ sugar-free) in new snack launches grew from two percent in 2012 to almost four percent.

The market for on the go nutrition is set to expand, with innovative startups, as well as major players, engaging in innovative NPD. It is clear that snacks undergoing healthy transformations – such as Stryve Biltong’s jerky – will continue to join the increasing number healthful foods repackaging themselves and innovating in order to suit on the go formats.  

By Laxmi Haigh

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