Vice Beating Virtue in the Snack Aisle
Americans are snacking more than ever, and for the first time in years the trend favors “indulgent” over healthier snacks. Data from market-research firm IRI showed sales for indulgent snacks rose 3.1% in 2014 compared to the previous year, while healthier snack choices rose only 2.5%. IRI reported that 59% of consumers say they indulge when they snack, with splurges on fatty, salty and sugary snacks such as jerky, baked goods and the fast-growing category of refrigerated meat and cheese wraps. The firm attributed the trend to efforts by food marketers to make indulgent snacks “more permissible” by making claims about fiber content, energy benefits and “natural” and hormone-free products.
Nearly half of consumers say they prefer snacks that are “natural,” a term with little legal or nutritional meaning (see this issue’s Special Supplement), with sales of “natural” snacks up 12.7%. Organic snacks also gained popularity, along with those certified as not containing genetically modified ingredients (non-GMO). Healthier-seeming snacks such as yogurt and protein bars are also becoming more indulgent, IRI noted, with higher fat content or the addition of chocolate.