ORLANDO -- The total snacking category has grown to become a $26.4 billion industry, an increase of $5.6 billion over the past six years, according to Information Resources, Inc., Chicago.
"Sixty percent of snack food growth is coming from new products," said Kim Feil, president of worldwide innovation at IRI.
At the SNAXPO 2001 trade show here last week, Feil presented a State of the Snack Food segment to conference attendees, which reviewed retailing and demographic trends within the industry, highlighting new products and growth opportunities.
Feil outlined current consumer preferences that drove the success of new product "pacesetters" for the year 2000, defining pacesetters as either brand-new products or line extensions that sell over $7.5 million during their first year of distribution.
The New Product Pacesetters 2000 report, to be presented in further detail at the annual Food Marketing Institute conference in May, found that salty snacks, cookies and snack bars are consistently among the top performing new products in the food segment, Feil said.
Trends in food are being driven to a large degree by consumers' increasing demand for convenience, as well as novel flavors and recipes. The snack food industry is responding with a host of innovative packaging and taste concepts.
Feil also noted the wane of the low-fat craze, citing a $300 million erosion of sales for low-fat products across all frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable convenience foods.