Trends

Although snacks are an indulgent item, they have not been immune from consumer demands for less fat, more fiber, low salt, and no cholesterol. Nutritional snacks such as rice cakes, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds have established strong market niches. No salt potato chips and pretzels are on the market, while the resurgence of popcorn may be due to its high fiber content. It is anticipated that more snacks will incorporate fiber. There is ample opportunity for introducing fiber into fabricated chips, extruded pellets, and tortilla chips. Technology is available for producing lower fat potato chips. It is expected that consumer demand will soon establish a segment for lower-calorie fried snacks despite the superior taste and texture of the full-fat products. Over the last few years flavors have become more sophisticated and spicier. Cajun, Mexican, cream cheese and dill, seafood, Italian (herbs and cheese), Indian (curry), and even hot pepper flavored snacks have all been introduced. Shape and texture are also becoming increasingly important. The introduction of extruded pellet technology has dramatically opened up the possibilities of snack shapes. Kettle potato chips have established a crunchier, tastier potato chip category. Rippled, ridged, corrugated, and undulated cuts offer diversity in texture. At the same time other snack segments are moving toward simplicity. Such products include white popcorn and uncoated tortilla chips. Sweet tastes have intruded into the salted snack market. Honey coating, introduced with nuts, has helped launch sweet coated popcorn and potato chips. Despite all the innovations, it is expected that traditional fried, salted potato chips will continue to lead the salted snack market.

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