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Sweet Talk: Consumers Love Sweet Snack Trends

185262_1387Americans are sweet on snacks—so much so, according to the market research firm Nielsen, they consumed over 92 billion dollars’ worth last year across the top seven categories.1 While salty snacks have the most sales to savor at $27.72 billion, candy came in second ($20.96 billion), cookies fourth ($7.36 billion) and ice cream fifth ($6.64 billion).1

Technomic, a foodservice-focused research and consulting firm, attributes the popularity of savory flavors to the tendency of American consumers to favor meat, grains, vegetables and cheeses.2 Technomic data indicates that they may view these as better-for-you profiles with lower sugar content.2

Among basic flavors, savory rises to the pinnacle of flavor profile popularity, with 65% of consumers surveyed agreeing that it is appealing. But sweet still surges with 52% of consumers surveyed and resonates particularly with women.2 And yet when it comes to complex flavor profiles, savory and sweet nearly run parallel, with 60% of consumers surveyed favoring savory, followed by 58% preferring sweet.3

Opposites Attract: Sweet and Savory Spur Menu Innovation

Sweet takes the cake as the flavor that makes the best pairings, but savory is its most preferred pairing.4 Sweet and savory is at the top of the list, with 53% finding that combination appealing; sweet and sour (51%) is next, followed by sweet and smoky (also 51%).4

The foodservice trend of sweet flavor profiles is sticking across dayparts. Technomic reports that breakfast menus are increasingly featuring entrées with sweet flavors like chocolate chips and berries, while sweet and savory pairings, some with better-for-you appeal like pomegranate and pistachio, are appearing more frequently on lunch and dinner menus.5

Baked good flavors, including raspberry scones and honey muffins, are helping to popularize sweet sides for breakfasts.6 Technomic cites a 36% growth in sweet breakfast sides and a 35% rise in sweet sides for lunch and dinner among Top 500 operators.6

On the dessert front, Technomic anticipates more breakfast-inspired sweet treats for lunch and dinner will appear as operators strive to use these hybrids to merge menu sections and mash up dayparts.7 Think waffle and French toast sandwiches jammed with sweet jellies and whipped cream, or bite-sized doughy treats drizzled in chocolate. And be sure to check out our recipe for Brioche Toast with OREO Spread.

Higher Check Average Alert! Consumers Still Yearn for Rewarding Flavor

Such sweet treats may seem at odds with the better-for-you foodservice trend. But Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader of Information Resources, Inc., points out: “From a macro perspective, indulgent snacks are outpacing the healthier.” While added nutritional content like whole grains and super fruits have helped drive the growth of rich, taste-tempting treats,8 flavor remains key. “People still love to treat themselves, reward themselves,” she said.8

Diversification can also help drive sweet sales. Fifty-three percent of food and beverage categories contain chocolate, and as the definition of snacking continues to stretch, chocolate helps boost business for other foods as well, as the success of cereals with chocolate shows.8 Sixty-two percent of consumers surveyed get their chocolate from other snack items than chocolate candy.8

Need help to hit the sweet spot of sales? Visit our culinary center for a feast of ideas to help you leverage the latest dessert trends and snacking innovations, and feel free to add your thoughts to the mix below.


1 Loesche, Dyfed, What’s America Snacking On? Statista, Dec. 5, 2017
2 Technomic, Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 2017, p. 97
3 Technomic, Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 2017, p. 98
4 Technomic, Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 2017, p. 99
5 Technomic, Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 2017, p. 44
6 Technomic, Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 2017, p. 45
7 Technomic, Dessert Consumer Trend Report, 2017, p. 25
8 Spencer, Joanie, “How can healthy snacks catch up to indulgent?” BakingBusiness.com, Apr. 4, 2017

Topics: Desserts, Millennials, Snacking, Trends

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