A new study has found that almost half of Canadian consumers believe that snacking is healthier than eating three full meals a day, raising further questions about the healthfulness of some ‘better-for-you’ snacks.
The research from Mintel also found that 51% of Canadians want healthy snacks packaged to eat on the go, with two-thirds of better-for-you snackers believing it’s important to always keep healthy snacks on hand.
18-24 year olds were more likely to be interested in snack-sized portions of regular foods, while three in ten people surveyed said they were interested in snacks made with plant-based protein.
Carol Wong-Li, associate director for lifestyles and leisure reports at Mintel, said: “Snackers today are looking for ways to satisfy cravings that fit in easily with an increasingly on-the-go lifestyle. The good news is food manufacturers and foodservice providers need not start from scratch. As many consumers have adopted the notion that anything can be a snack, companies can appeal to those looking for better-for-you snacks by rethinking packaging to make items more portable rather than reinventing the wheel.
“This is especially crucial for foodservice vendors in particular as consumers aged 18-24 are the most likely to dine out, yet also feel the financial impact of it. This highlights an opportunity to offer smaller serving sizes of their dishes at lower price points to appeal to this group.”
As consumers look to make better choices for themselves, it seems fresh and minimally processed snacks are coming out on top as fresh fruit and vegetables (84%) are Canadians’ top better-for-you snack of choice, followed by cheese (79%), nuts (69%) and popcorn (60%). In fact, Mintel research shows the snack innovation that consumers are most likely to say they would like to see more of is products made from fresh ingredients (55%).
While fresh snacks are winning out, younger consumers are placing power in protein to keep them full. 30% of consumers say they eat meat snacks, with younger snackers aged 18-34 the most likely age group to agree (41%). Although just 16% of consumers say they are interested in snack bars made with meat, one third (32%) of men aged 18-34 are keen to see more of this type of offering.
“Protein is a key area of interest for younger Canadians when it comes to innovations in healthy snacks, but men and women differ when it comes to the actual source of protein they prefer,” Wong-Li continued. “While young women show interest in plant-based proteins, men are more likely to turn to meat. This may stem, in part, to the different approaches taken to snacking. Younger women tend to snack because they are too busy to eat meals, whereas young men usually do so as a way to refuel after exercise. Marketers looking to promote plant-based proteins will see success by focusing on how these ingredients work to keep consumers fuller longer, while brands promoting meat can focus on how the quality of the meat protein contributes to muscle building, recovery and/or development.”
Distrust of health claims
While Canadians are keen to enjoy healthy snacks, there are significant concerns. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of better-for-you snackers believe that many snacks marketed as healthy are not actually healthy, with just 41% saying they trust the health claims on food and beverage packaging. And for many, there’s confusion when it comes to making a healthy snack choice, as half (49%) say it is hard to tell if a snack is healthy.
Wong-Li added: “Many consumers today have difficulty determining the healthfulness of snacks and hold a general distrust of claims on food and beverage packaging. This may be drawing them toward choosing fresh and less processed snacks, rather than processed and/or packaged ones. Marketers can boost perceptions of healthfulness of their products by highlighting whole and/or fresh ingredients the products include and featuring clear packaging to both showcase the ingredients and offer transparency.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
World Beverage Innovation Awards – NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES!
The awards celebrate excellence and innovation across the global beverage industry.
Don’t miss out on having your innovations recognised on a global scale.
Deadline for entries 23 July – enter now!
Don’t get left behind
Start your free Foodbev magazine trial today and join thousands of fellow industry professionals in receiving food and drink trends direct to our business.
Click here to start your free trial