Mintel has a strong feeling that texture will take hold as a major snack trend in 2018. Based on input from 60 expert analysts in more than a dozen countries,1 the global market and research firm has identified a wave of “new sensations”—the sensory experiences consumers enjoy from the mouthfeel of foods and beverages with distinctive textures—as a projected sales catalyst with a worldwide impact, according to Mintel’s Global Food & Drink Trends 2018.2
Color has made a splash as a sensory experience, as shown by the popularity of unicorn-colored foods and beverages. Like colorful concepts, texture can provide share-worthy experiences for social media feeds. It can even take the connection deeper, touching off a tactile reaction in a youth market hungry for bold flavor adventures.
As a result, Mintel projects that 2018 will see more products that leverage texture to “surprise and delight” consumers—in particular, technology-driven iGeneration members between the ages of 18 and 28 who yearn for new experiences and forms of engagement.2
Given the growing influence of interactive and sharable digital experiences, particularly among younger consumers who have been weaned on technology, it makes sense for foodservice operators to tap into the market’s hankering for multisensory adventure in snacks. Rich, diverse flavor profiles that offer chewy, crunchy, creamy or crispy texture experiences (or combinations of them) just might hit the sweet spot with adventure-hungry young snackers.
Texture Taps Into a World of Foodservice Opportunities
The texture trend has taken on global proportions. According to Mintel survey data, 43% of Chinese in the 20- to 49-year-old range are interested in ready-to-drink options with fruit bits and a third say they would prefer their yogurt to include cereal, grains or seeds.4 Throughout Europe, significant survey samplings showed a receptivity to trying foods and beverages with unusual textures. And three in 10 Canadian consumers of sweet baked goods are interested in cookie and chip hybrids.5
To underscore the global power and prevalence of the multisensory snacking trend, Mintel cites a South Korean ad for RITZ that uses the sounds the crackers make as they’re eaten to dramatize a distinctive snacking experience.3 The report also highlights last year’s U.S. debut of the limited-edition Firework OREO formulated with popping candy in the crème filling sandwiched between the two crunchy chocolate wafers.3
Even Better: Teaming Texture with Better-for-You Nutrition
To avoid touching off concerns about nutritional quality, texture-driven sensations require formulations that satisfy popular demand for better-for-you ingredients. Fortunately, balancing multi-sensory appeal with nutritional value is an achievable win-win. “As with color, more companies have the opportunity to add texture via natural ingredients, such as the pulp of fruit or vegetables, the tingle of spicy peppers, or carbonation resulting from fermentation as with kombucha,” writes Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst for Mintel.2
Texture can also be used to support parents in their efforts to promote nutrition among their families. “Kids are sensitive to textures,” Gerrie Bouchard, director of marketing for Archer Daniels Midland, pointed out.6 Formulations that provide nutrition in “fun, portable and palatable” ways may make a difference.6
For adult consumers, a combination of unexpected textures and traditional flavor profiles may peak interest. “Some examples of textures that I plan on using would be powders, gels, fizzy mouth feel,” said Marisa High, pastry chef of recently opened Citizen Rail in Denver.7 “My thoughts are to take common ingredients and make the familiar texture, unfamiliar. For example, making peanut butter powder.”7
How do you plan to feel out the ways texture and multisensory experiences can help boost sales? Chime in below and let us know if you’d like to learn how our brands can help you make the most out the texture foodservice trend.