Key Takeaways from SNAXPO 2017

SNAXPO, the world’s largest, most comprehensive trade show devoted exclusively to the international snack food industry, was held this year from 1-4 April in Savannah, Georgia.  There were over 1,100 industry professionals and almost 150 exhibitors in attendance to showcase the latest equipment, ingredients, products and services from around the world.  SNAXPO also held various presentations on snack food innovation, market trends and evolution worldwide. The diverse intelligence discussed in these presentations will be outlined in this report.

In her presentation, “New & Emerging Snacks in the Traditional and Better-for-You Snack Categories,” Sally Lyons Wyatt of IRI discussed the increased demand for flavour variety and on-the-go portability while offering a high level of transparency with snacking products.

It is no longer just classic retailing channels who are providing snack foods. 42% of customers go 1-2x per week to restaurants like McDonald’s or Starbucks to pick up a snack. Many restaurants are tapping into this on-the-go theme providing snack boxes. Portable dips are also on the rise, no longer being a totally “social event” food that it has historically been in the US. This trend is likely rooted in the fact that the younger generation no longer feels like they need to have three standard meals per day. Instead, eating smaller servings several times a day is becoming more popular.

More ‘wholesome’ portable snacks have also seen a rise due to customers’ concern of holistic health. Therefore, products, such as fresh juice, farmer’s cheese, meat-based snacks and nut-based smoothies with added probiotics, have been gaining popularity. Claims made on these products are key to their success with 52% of customers stating that product labels and packaging influence their purchase and 60% of customers wanting additional health benefits. Examples of this are added protein, no preservatives, no sugar added, non GMO, organic and free from artificial colors. With less trusting consumers, this labeling is much better perceived when it has been certified by a national/global organisation.

While these factors have become more important, she noted that 90.6% of US customers are still selecting their snack food products on the sole fact of whether or not it tastes good.

Lead analyst from Euromonitor International, Jared Koerten presented on the “State of Snacking: Lessons Learned from the Global Market.”  Koerten stated that in 2016, 32% of global sales of savoury snacks were in the United States – therefore 68% of the savoury snacks category is elsewhere in the world – so it is crucial to understand these international trends and market opportunities in this increasingly globalised industry.

The amount of times per week that a consumer buys and consumes a snack outside of their home has grown substantially in the past couple of years from an average of 1.72 times in 2015 to 2.19 times in 2016. The time at which people are consuming snacks has also changed over the past few years with more people now eating “on-the-go” breakfast snacks (6-10am) and late-night snacks (9pm or later) providing many new product opportunities for manufacturers, such as drinkable yoghurt and breakfast-flavoured jerky.  This “convenience” trend is all about portability – in the US, 1-3 oz savoury snack packaging is most popular and steadily growing in market size, often with re-sealable packaging.

New retail technology is also a notable factor within the snack food industry. In the US, the average time people spend purchasing consumer goods has gone down 15% from 2004.  Companies around the world are capitalising on this change, with companies like Amazon’s  AmazonGo having created hybrid retail models to reach more of their busy customers, a general rise  in convenience stores (vs. supermarkets) and many other retailers now providing “click-and-collect” options.

The word “natural” is increasingly becoming synonymous with the word “healthy” as more customers look for labels stating “all-natural” and “no artificial ingredients” Carrie Schroeder from Kerry Group noted in her “Dairy’s Role in Better-For-You, Clean Label & Simple Authentic Snacks” presentation. Schroeder explained that while dairy faces competition from growth of non-dairy products, Americans still consume an average 34 lbs. of cheese annually. This is a massive growth of 43% over the past 25 years.

Cheese is increasingly being seen as a healthy snacking option, providing macro nutrients like protein and healthy fat. This presents a new opportunity to reconstruct traditional dairy offerings for new markets, indulgent options and single-serve snacks.

While consumers are increasingly striving to put healthier food in their bodies, 45% of consumers globally have no consensus on what “clean labelling” means.  45-65+ year-olds believe clean label means that the product has had something removed (i.e. trans fats). On the other hand, 18-44 year-olds believe clean labeling means something inherent to the food, as in not being genetically modified. Therefore, age-specific messaging is important given that consumers want to feel better about eating a food before they even put it in their mouths – not just afterward.


Additional education sessions and innovation presentations were given concerning the topics of sustainable packaging, groundbreaking ingredients, food laws, and regulatory developments.

SNAXPO 2018 will be held from 10-13 March in Atlanta, Georgia.