Key trends driving the US snacks market
posted on 12 September, 2017 by Mark Lozano
The US is by far one of the biggest snack consumers in the world. Accounting for 33.2% of the global market for savoury snacks, it’s not just the largest, but also one of the most innovative markets and can be used as a key indicator for upcoming trends. In many ways, what US consumers eat today is likely to make it onto the shelves of the rest of the world tomorrow.
Let’s take a quick look at the three main trends that are currently driving the development of the US savoury snacks market as established by global market research group Global Data:
The US savory snacks market is forecast to reach US$39,644.1 million by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 5.2%. Although processed snacks still make up the largest share of the US market (42.7%), popcorn and meat snacks are expected to be the fastest growing segments due to increased consumer demand for healthy, natural and nutritious snacks. 34.8% of US consumers in the category are above the age of 45; however, innovation in the savoury segment is primarily driven by adventure-seeking millennials, who make up around 27% of the market.
Trend 1: Anchoring and nostalgia
“58% of people in the US say that they find food products that remind them of their childhood and simpler times to be appealing”
With longer working hours, less vacation time and later retirement, US consumers lead some of the busiest lifestyles across the world. For many of them, snacking has become an important means to escape from their hectic lives. Whether consumed in between meals or as a well-deserved treat at the end of a long day, more and more US consumers are turning to more traditional, yet indulgent snacks that remind them of simpler times. In particular women (39.7%) are influenced by the anchoring and nostalgia trend and tend to be engaged with classic flavours or limited edition runs of snacks with retro packaging.
Trend 2: Premiumisation and Indulgence
“37% of people in the US say that they regularly consume premium food to treat themselves because they think they deserve it”
The desire to treat themselves is still one of the main motivators when it comes to the consumption of savoury snacks. For many consumers this means decadent flavours, premium ingredients or superior textures. However, the premiumisation of the US savory snacks sector doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers are willing to pay extra for their gourmet snacks. Manufacturers have therefore started to look for technology that helps them get more out of their raw materials, whether this is highly accurate seasoning technology or high performance fryers that allow them to maximise oil life without comprising on the quality of their products.
Trend 3: Novel and Experiential
“47% of people in the US say that they have more favourable perceptions of groceries if they have novel flavours”
The US savory snacks sector is known across the world for its high degree of innovation. US consumers are never shy to try unusual flavours or textures – even if it it’s just that once. This unique attitude to new ideas and experiences has made the US snacks market one the most dynamic markets in the world with new product innovations popping up around the clock. Snack manufacturers are appealing to these experience-seeking consumers with a wide range of fun and inspiring products that contain novel ingredients like peas, kale or coconut or exotic flavours such as chipotle peppers, sriracha or Thai spices.
And the future?
Although the FDA recently announced it’s delaying the compliance date for the new nutrition fact labels, the new guidelines will sooner or later come into force. These more stringent regulations on the use and labelling of ingredients, together with the consumer demand for healthier, more natural snacks, are likely to influence new product innovations over the coming years. However, as consumers are often unwilling to pay more for ‘better for you’ products, the pressure will be on manufacturers to find solutions that will enable them to balance health, taste and production costs.
If you would like to find out more about how our turnkey packaging and processing solutions can help you meet the latest US snack trends head on, come and see us at Pack Expo, booth 5442!
 Consumer and Market Insights: Savory Snacks in the US (September 2016)