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:

How do Consumers Define “Clean” When it Comes to Food Labels?

Clean-eating is here to stay. While a clean-eating diet spurs the growth of gluten-free, vegan and paleo diets, most consumers consider clean-eating as a lifestyle rather than a trend.

While there is no universal definition for clean-eating, it is commonly defined as a diet that includes whole foods that are closest to nature in their least-processed state. According to Registered Dietitian and Doctor of Public Health, Wendy Bazilian, clean-eating means ‘eating more wholesome, simpler and minimally-processed foods, and avoiding highly-processed foods’, (which have nutrient-rich ingredients replaced with undesirable ingredients).

Alternatives to grain-based flours coincide with clean-eating trends. Seeds, nuts and root vegetables are used to replace less-desirable ingredients. Varieties include:

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

According to survey results from global measurement and data analytics company, Label Insights, 68% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for foods and beverages that don’t contain ingredients they perceive as bad for them. Packaged goods are accepted as a part of consumers clean-eating lifestyle – they focus on the label, product messaging and transparency about the product ingredients and practices.


How do consumers define clean when it comes to food labels?

As consumers are more educated than ever, easy to read labels with simple ingredients are a driving factor for consumers with a clean-eating diet. Shoppers who follow a clean-eating lifestyle look for ingredients they recognize or would use when cooking at home, and labels typically include the ‘free-from’ claim. For example, products free from added artificial ingredients (such as colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners). Some clean-eating dedicated consumers focus on products labels that list few ingredients, using qualifiers including 10 ingredients or less.  According to data summarized from Nielsen and Label Insight, The USDA Certified Organic seal is often important for many consumers who follow a clean-eating diet, especially with packaged food. As education amongst consumers is always increasing, “clean-eaters” take the qualifications a step further and focus on the company’s transparency – such as certifications that validate the product’s purity, quality and nutritional profile remains intact during the production process.

Firebird Mills product selection and integrity of certifications

Clean-eating often eliminates refined grains or flour from the diet and includes whole grains only. Whole grains contain the bran and the germ, not just the endosperm. A few examples of whole grains include amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice and teff. There is a rise in consumers experiencing ‘claim fatigue’ while shopping – according to Mintel US research, only 44% of consumers trust claims on food and beverage products and there is a general mistrust of vague claims such as ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’. Consumers who follow clean-eating lifestyles focus on claims and certifications that prove worthy of their trust through verification. The AA BRC certified label on Firebird products qualifies Firebird against a rigorous audit for the global standard of food safety, auditing its quality management, the control process, site standards, and allergen control. This assessment ensures allergen and chemical contamination is tested annually. Other packaging requirements that are considered standard for all Firebird products include ‘Top 8 Allergen-Free’. Firebird products are mixed, milled and packaged on-site in a dedicated allergen-free and ICS Gluten-Free certified facility – this closed-loop system of mill to sealed package ensures zero-risk of cross-contamination amongst products or with gluten, protecting gluten-free customers who follow clean-eating lifestyles as well.

Firebird Mills natural treatment process standards ensure products remain clean. The Firebird team is dedicated to help gluten-free or allergen-free manufacturers produce the highest quality products.  

Want to learn more? Contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 701-324-4330 or email us at