Experiential eating leads to new snacking innovations like “swicy” s’mores and vegan “brookie”

Consumers often perceive snacks as “low risk” opportunities for food exploration, as bites between meals tend to be smaller quantities and at lower prices than full meals. This means snack developers have the freedom to experiment with unique taste profiles, unexpected colors and unusual textures.

So how can bakery and snack brands attract shoppers with multi-sensory engagement in the months ahead?

Consider focusing on plant-based snacks and treats with minimal sugar and a pleasant texture and taste, says ADM.

Rich in vegetable proteins

Today’s consumers are open to exploring animal and plant-based protein in snacks. This flexitarian approach is meant to support a more resilient food system, as well as the joy of discovery. Additionally, protein can help reduce hunger and can support the body’s energy levels.

Plant proteins have become commonplace in chips and crackers, nutrition bars, muffins and more. In 2023, this rising tide will elevate alternative meat snacks as substitutes for savory, smoked, and cold-cooked options. Charcuterie boards of the future could also feature plant-based cheeses alongside fruits, vegetables, olives, breads and spreads.

Crunchy snacks are a fun format for plant-based ingredients, including ancient grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and dried fruits. These bites can be sweet or savory, offering a range of nutrients from fiber to protein and a delicious mix of textures. Snack clusters are also a great way to introduce consumers to lesser-known vegetable protein sources like sorghum, amaranth and hemp, or even new protein sources like insects or algae.

sugar swaps

Even though snacks tend to emphasize sweeter flavors – especially chocolate, vanilla and strawberry – there is a definite move away from added sugars in many aspects of consumer consumption occasions.

2020 and 2021 data from ADM’s proprietary consumer insights platform, Outside Voice, revealed that eight in 10 consumers – in the EU and US – intentionally avoid or reduce sugar in their diet. feed. Additionally, 83% of Europeans and 70% of Americans believe it is important to reduce sugar in bars and snacks. Similarly, reducing sugar in baked goods is important to 70% of US consumers and 79% of European consumers.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for reducing sugar in baked goods and snacks.

A vegan brownie or “brookie” cookie can be a decadent treat with better-for-you appeal thanks to stevia, allulose, and other low-calorie or no-calorie sweeteners.

Allulose, for example, occurs naturally in wheat and dried fruit and has 70% the sweetness of sugar without the sugar alcohols, which is a win for product labeling. It also supports baking functionality as it provides vital browning and moistening.

Low-calorie, no-calorie sweeteners are a great option for all types of bars, cookies, and crackers.

Breads, cakes, and pastries are additional options for reducing sugar.

ADM’s Outside Voice found that Americans are more likely to value reducing sugar in gourmet choices, compared to 47% of Europeans. Stevia and reduced-sugar corn syrups are great choices for baked goods, especially those that are calorie counters. For example, a low-sugar frosted cupcake with flavors and colors from natural sources and other botanical ingredients has a lot to offer label-conscious consumers.

Fascinating flavors and textures

Product developers that focus on the snack experience attract shoppers who roam the snack and bakery aisles.

Flavor is an important attribute, and trends include tastes from around the world, nostalgic and uplifting flavors, as well as flavors that can signal feel-good attributes.

Citrus flavors, for example, are loved for their fresh, juicy notes, but may also attract consumers to products formulated with vitamin C for immune support. Think Cranberry Orange Granola Bars, Blueberry Lemon Muffins, and Pineapple Yuzu Upside-Down Cake.

Fusion flavors are especially popular, with Hot Honey leaning into the sweet and spicy or “swicy” trend for everything from crispy to cornbread. Caramelized onion rings, white cheddar and jalapeño puffed pea snacks, or sweet and salty s’mores popcorn are other favorites.

When it comes to textures, baked goods and snacks can be crispy, crunchy, creamy, chewy, and doughy.

Tomorrow’s snacks

Snacks and bakery are particularly good categories for adventurous and experiential meals that can help people curb hunger and maintain energy levels. They also respond to consumer demand for foods and flavors that align with contemporary values ​​around holistic wellness and environmentally responsible production.

Today, there are many opportunities to innovate with offerings that nourish body and mind while supporting people and the planet. And whether it’s better access to alternative proteins or the expansion of sweetening solutions, advances in the industry can promote spontaneous snacking that will appeal to consumers.

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