by Jay Kitterman, consultant, LLCC Culinary Institute
Two weeks ago our daughter, her three (very active) daughters, and husband visited us for a few days. To properly prepare, Carol and I asked for a list of food items to have on hand. My daughter’s list consisted of the following: organic skim milk, whole wheat bread, fruit, avocado, yogurt (not cherry) and veggies. Shortly thereafter, we received a text list from the 10-year-old granddaughter: mint Oreos, plain Ruffles, French onion dip and sushi. I was amazed when I arrived at the snack aisle at Schnuck’s. There must have been at least 10 different varieties of Oreos: mint, caramel, chocolate peanut butter, rocky road and many more, plus a choice of thin, double-stuffed or regular.
My article today is on the growing snack industry.
In the past four years, snack sales in the U.S. have jumped more than 12 percent to $145 billion, according to Nielsen Retail Measurement Services. A large portion of that growth has come from consumers seeking out healthy snacks or those that are organic or have so-called clean labels — no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or sweeteners. Sales of nuts, trail mix and organic savory snacks in the U.S. jumped to nearly $9 billion last year, from $7.8 billion in 2012, according to Euromonitor International.
As consumers’ appetites for healthy snacks has grown, so has the number of products fighting for a spot in their cabinets. In 2017, a study by Nielsen showed thousands of small manufacturers collectively held 60 percent of the fast-growing clean-label market.
Nearly 18,000 industry professionals recently gathered for the National Confectioners Association annual Sweets and Snacks Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago to view the latest innovations from more than 800 exhibiting companies. The event features five acres of candy and snack products, displaying approximately 17,000 items from 90 countries. I need to get on their invite list. This years “Best in Show” award went to Hostess Brands for their Double Chocolate Cake Delights. Another notable winner was Hershey Gold Standard bar, named the most innovative product in the chocolate category.
New items at the show were vegan coconut caramels in flavors such as ginger rum, Thai iced tea and Vietnamese coffee. A line of caramel marshmallows from Vosges Chocolate included blood orange hibiscus, roasted walnut pecan and black salt coconut. Coconut and caramel seemed to be amongst the top ingredients this year.
Sophisticated flavor profiles featured in new snacks included fire-roasted hatch chiles, sun-dried tomato, rosemary and garlic, and maple syrup. Other new unique flavors were a ginger lime milk chocolate bar and a banana rum premium snack.
Major food and beverage companies are increasing their snack portfolios. Kellogg’s, for example, has been struggling with shifting trends as more people opt out of the traditional cereals. It is now offering more low-sugar options, including protein bars. They have been buying smaller snack brands aimed at health-conscious consumers, and often you will not even see the Kellogg name on it.
For PepsiCo, the recent purchase of Bare Foods, a maker of baked fruit and vegetable snacks, is its latest effort to diversify its food and beverage portfolio. This is an effort to move toward the more natural, less-processed foods that are now in favor by increasingly health-conscious consumers. Pepsi-Co of course owns Frito Lay and has introduced Simply Tostitos organic tortilla chips, Simply Organic Doritos, and Off the Eaten Path, which makes crispy snacks using vegetables like black beans and green peas. Since 2006, the percentage of revenues coming from healthier food and beverages at PepsiCo has climbed to 50 percent from 38 percent.
Earlier this year, Campbell Soup, which had already acquired the organic products maker Pacific Foods, closed on its $4.9 billion acquisition of Snyder’s-Lance, the maker of Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels and Cape Cod potato chips. Late last year, Hershey announced plans to buy Amplify Snack Brands, the maker of SkinnyPop Popcorn and Paqui tortilla chips, for $1.6 billion, while ConAgra picked up Angie’s Boomchickapop for $250 million.
Two Springfield dietitians gave me their take on snacks, preferably heathy and still tasty. Charlyn Fargo Ware is the in-store dietitian at Hy-Vee and also teaches nutrition as part of Lincoln Land Community College’s culinary arts program.
Her recommendations are:
Harvest Snaps – all flavors, Green Pea Snack Crisps. They are better for you than a chip and you still get the crunch plus five grams of protein and 5 grams fiber.
Skinny Pop – an air popped popcorn that comes in many flavors and offers protein, fiber and low calories.
Hummus – We all love hummus. Dip in fresh carrots and celery. Hummus, made out of garbanzo beans, offers protein and fiber.
Beanitos – lots of flavors. Chips made out of beans rather than corn are a better choice because they have more protein and fiber. Choose the lower fat ones and get an added bonus.
READY EGG go! — Hardboiled eggs paired with nuts and cheese.
Other smart snacks — almonds, apple with powdered peanut butter, celery with Laughing Cow Cheese wedge or light Babybel , fresh fruit, frozen fruit, non-fat Greek yogurt (her favorite is Oikos Triple Zero because it has 15 grams of protein, only 6 grams of sugar, plus 6 grams of fiber).
Charlyn said there are many more and to stop in at Hy-Vee to ask her where they all are.
Erin Paris, also a Registered Dietitian, is an active mom and listed some of her family’s favorites.
To frozen banana ice cream, they mix in kefir, nuts, peanut butter, chocolate chips, raisins, craisins, dried fruits, avocado and granola as a topping, making it more balanced. The nuts or peanut butter help provide protein fiber and a little healthy fat balancing out the fruit. Other family choices are:
Cucumber slices with cheese, avocado, hummus or even turkey bacon.
Zucchini steak fries with cheese melted on top.
Nuts trail mix. They make their own with dried pineapple, mango, papaya, raisins or craisins.
My thanks to Charlyn and Erin.
“If we are not meant to have midnight snacks, why is there a light in the fridge?
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through the Culinary Institute. For more information, visit www.llcc.edu.