Consumers Like Snacks How Much?

It is no surprise that consumers enjoy a good salty snack. But did you know the US salty snack market segment is on track to reach nearly $30 billion annual sales by 2022? And it’s not just salty snacks that’s on the rise; the snack food industry as a whole is growing due to the increased demand for healthier ingredients, flavors and other consumer needs. Combine salty snacks with the consumer’s increasing desire to eat healthier, and it creates a powerful driver of sales.


Consumer lifestyle habits and overall health goals are playing a critical role in the continuation of product development and category growth. Snacks are changing in terms of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. And although the need for gluten-free and organic products remains, consumers are looking for additional benefits. In this article, Firebird looks at key trends impacting the boost in healthy snacks.


Over the last few years, people have moved away from consuming three meals a day to smaller meals or increased snacking throughout the day. According to one report, 41% of consumers snack 1-2 times per day1.  As a result, more snacking creates the need for additional product varieties and healthy alternatives.  

Along with a broader selection in healthy snack options, consumers want to know the story behind the ingredient. This drives the persistence of clean label and transparency demands. Common product attributes addressing these demands include foods that are locally produced, create a social impact or reduce a carbon footprint with purchase.

Essentially, this means people want to understand the functional benefits – what they personally get out of the healthy products and ingredients they choose to consume. This trend provides opportunities for manufacturers to produce new varieties to their existing product line. For example, vegan consumers looking for healthy egg substitutes can purchase products with white beans functioning as an egg replacer in baked goods and fava functioning as whipping protein to replace eggs. 


Walk down the grocery aisle and it’s hard not to notice the various packaging claims (USDA Organic, high fiber, non-GMO, plant-based protein, etc.). Consumers look for certifications that validate the product’s purity, quality and nutritional profile remains intact during the production process. These claims along with protein varieties are vital for consumers focused on reaching their weight management, health and nutritional goals.

Taste is also important and will continue to influence a steady growth in food varieties. However, consumers want more than just a tasty snack. The functional benefits of foods we eat are just as important, and they can easily be found in protein and fiber.

Protein Health Benefits

  • Boosts the immune system
  • Aids in bone health
  • Supports nervous system functions
  • Helps in muscular contraction and coordination (such as muscle tissue)  
  • Renews and restores cells and tissues in the body

Source:  Organic Facts, 12 Surprising Benefits of Proteins

Fiber Health Benefits

  • Helps reduce the risk of diabetes
  • Improves heart and gastrointestinal health
  • Aids in weight management
  • Protects against certain cancers (such as colon, breast and ovarian)

Source:  Organic Facts, 10 Surprising Benefits of Fiber has a good summary of recent Packaged Facts research that features some of the healthy ingredients and flavor trends behind consumer demands.


As mentioned throughout this article, incorporating protein into food is leading current product trends. Ingredients such as diverse plant protein, deliver high protein levels and contributes to many health benefits. As more consumers increase their preference for vegetable-based proteins, so accelerates the protein enrichment trend.

To accommodate this desire, manufactures are looking to produce foods with organic, gluten-free alternate ingredients.  Alternatives to grain-based flours include the inclusion of seeds, nuts and root vegetables – replacing less-desirable ingredients. Varieties include:

  • Cassava
  • Root vegetables (jicama, sweet potatoes, parsnips)
  • Green banana flour
  • Coffee flours

Want to learn more? If you’d like to talk about adding trendy, healthy, and nutritious ingredients to your snack formulation, Firebird is ready to help. We are dedicated to helping gluten-free or allergen-free manufacturers produce the highest quality products.  Contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 701-324-4330 or email us at



1: Information Resources, Inc. (IRI):  2017 State of the Snack Food Industry

2: Organic Facts, 12 Surprising Benefits of Proteins:

3: Organic Facts, 10 Surprising Benefits of Fiber: