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Snacks Grow Up

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healthysnack.jpgBetter-for-you snacks were coming into their own even before the recession. Now, with low-cost meal replacements more prized than ever, the segment is really starting to take off. Vegetable chips in the checkout aisle? You bet.

According to a recent trend mapping report from Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development, consumers are more discriminating about the snacks they’re buying. They don’t just want any old stomach-fillers — they want healthy energy and gourmet flavors that can stand in as a breakfast or lunch.

“Snacks are less and less the hunger-soothing bridge between formal meals. They have become valuable gastronomical events in their own right,” said Kimberly Egan, CEO of the Center for Culinary Development, in a statement.

It’s the same sort of sophistication that’s happening with ingredients and prepared meals. Instead of time-honored standbys like potato chips, there's more interest now in healthy spin-offs like cassava and beet chips. Popcorn is proliferating into healthy varieties. Same with the yogurt category, which has seen an explosion in Greek, organic and all-natural brands. Wallaby yogurt had a press event today to display their recently released “Down Under” line, which comes in a transparent cup to show off the fruit chunks at the bottom.

Add in all the new snack products that factor in consumer awareness about sugar, salt and other additives, and you’ve got one complex category. Managers have to plan carefully, for sure; maybe crack open a bag of sweet potato chips for inspiration.

(photo courtesy of Daphne')

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