Healthy snacking, re-imagined
Gone are the days when a quick healthy snack meant a reduced fat bag of crisps or a no added sugar cereal bar. We are all more aware of what constitutes a healthier product and we demand more from snacking occasions, whether it’s on the go, at home; through product choices or through specific needs.
Health is becoming mainstream. And we are seeing some of the more “niche” health snacking brands, such as The Food Doctor, moving out of the health food aisle and merging into category, extending the breadth of ingredients and product formats available. Plant-based snacks derived from nuts, seeds and seaweed are already hitting the mainstream. Brands such as The Cornish Seaweed Company promise “more vitamins and minerals than any other food” with their innovative snacking Organic Dulse. This is also presented as a vegan bacon substitute. So, above and beyond an ordinary snack. Very handy.
Other Chick-pea based snacks saw an incredible 150 per cent growth last year. And as our appetite for more adventurous healthy alternatives grows we’re seeing many more of these niche brands popping up, with brands such as Hippeas sitting alongside the more traditional crisps, nuts and popcorn.
The US and Asia are seeing launches including vegan jerky – trends that have spread to the European market, particularly as our willingness to experiment with new flavours and ingredients increases. And Biltong, jerky and popcorn have all seen major NPD and sales success, as protein and reducing sugar intake continue to be a priority.
However, despite the innovation around flavour pairings and ingredients, there is an overall disconnect in the way healthier options are presented.
Visual codes including colour and language associated with either diet or natural are misleading. The plethora of niche healthy brands using playful, child-like graphics or a craft brown paper, hand written approach has been done to the point of making them invisible on-shelf.
Surely our understanding of health has moved beyond natural with nutrition and nourishment taking priority. Brands need to appeal to a more “wellthy” audience with a focus on betterment. We need to engage the mindful nourishers, who are more conscious about their diets whilst embracing the hedonists who prioritise taste and convenience.
Brands such as Chika’s chickpea crisps and That’s it fruit and veg jerky, successfully engage us with contemporary design that is both stylish and straight-talking. They feel grown-up and don’t talk down us or chatter too much. Chika’s balances taste “An adventure in taste awaits” with credible health claims “Gluten free, no palm oil, Vegan and 100% natural”. The language on both brands is refreshingly simple, straight forward and easy to understand.
So if health = nutrition + nourishment and snacking means convenience, we need to re-imagine the visual codes. Brands should be taking the mystery out of health with labelling that is super simple and super clear. Show us your product credentials, don’t hide them on back of pack. Use Colours that are vibrant to reflect flavour and taste; a tone of voice that is positive not punitive; a brand that engages us in conversation rather than a lecture; that is straight-talking, honest and generous.
And the positivity shouldn’t stop at nutrition. Ethical stories, community support and sustainability all play an equally important part in feeding our conscience as well as our bodies.