Among snacking trends, candy is giving the industry a lot to chew on, both as a profit engine and an evolving market.
Healthy snacks are definitely in, but that doesn’t mean that a large batch of consumers don’t favor snacks that fit a sugary flavor profile. According to last year’s Packaged Facts report, “Sweet Baked Goods: U.S. Market Trends,” while 30% of Americans claimed to limit snacks to healthy options and 45% cited nutritional value as the key factor in their food choices, consumers still like to indulge in their favorite sweet treats, provided they can find more wholesome versions of them.1
Millennials are making a major impact on the foodservice industry. Sixty-nine million strong1, this large-and-in-charge generation is so influential, trends follow in its wake. And this group of 18- to 34-year-old consumers shows no signs of slowing down, so operators need to cater to their trendsetting ways to cash in on their spending power.
As consumers become more health conscious and public concern over food allergies reaches a fever pitch, there’s a lot of sweet talk about what allergen-free snacking can bring to the table. Gluten-free dieting in particular has seen a surge in popularity. Projected to grow from $4.63 billion in 2015 to $7.59 billion in 2020,1 the gluten-free market is too big to ignore and naturally commands attention as a foodservice trend. As a result, gluten-free alternatives to popular favorites make sense for operators interested in menu innovation.
Snacks low in calories and high in nutrition are gaining popularity as more and more consumers become health conscious and demand options with traceable and trustworthy origins. Taking a bite out of the snack market is no small feat, given the fact that snack sales account for 40% of the $370 billion U.S. packaged food market, with projected annual growth of 2% through 2019.1 Driving this growth are millennials, who tend to snack significantly more than previous generations. As Amanda Topper, a food analyst with Mintel, explained, ”Older consumers did not grow up with all-day snacking and may continue to view snacks as treats."2
With all the challenges on their plate, foodservice operators find being forced to eat the high cost of food waste one of the most pressing. The 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) found that about seven in ten restauranteurs consider food waste critical enough to warrant closer monitoring and increase tracking.1
As the millennial obsession with shifting snacks from guilty pleasures to healthy treats causes food operators to reassess and reinvent old favorites, chocolate sales have been bittersweet. Still a hugely popular snacking staple, chocolate generated $18 billion in 20151 and sales are projected to reach $25 billion in 2019.2 But an array of healthy snack options, including nutritional bars, nuts and chips, is eating into the chocolate market.
UBS analyst Steven Strycula told CNBC that there is “a lot more snacking alternatives or substitutable occasions that is taking people away from traditional sugar confection and also that everyday kind of chocolate purchase."1
Size matters in the foodservice industry. Small operators can’t help but feel a twinge of resource envy when they consider the sheer magnitude of national chains. But the fact is, the pie is so big there’s a lot of opportunity that small operators can sink their teeth into. With 9 in 10 consumers fessing up that they enjoy going to restaurants and half of them going so far as to say that restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle,1 the American love affair with eating out continues to grow. In 2010, restaurant industry sales reached $586.7 billion; this year, the figure is projected to hit $782.7 billion.
A feast of devices and digital marketing channels has created a feeding frenzy for marketers hungry to reach new customers and retain existing ones. As we explored in “Marketing on the Menu,” digital marketing is a must-or-bust proposition for today’s restaurant operations. To keep pace with a digitally accelerating marketing environment filled with digitally savvy consumers, you need to capitalize on the foodservice trend of tapping into tech and get a handle on what it brings to the table.
Leaves aren’t the only thing changing this fall season. Snacking trends are changing too as snack-hungry consumers (in particular, millennials) drive consumption to new heights. According to Technomic’s latest Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report, snack attacks are increasing in frequency, with 83% of consumers in 2016 snacking on a daily basis, versus 76% in 2014.1 As their lifestyles become more fast-paced, consumers look for quick food fixes in the form of snacks. And, as healthy snacks grow in popularity, many people are becoming more flexible in how they define snacks and when they consume them.