Snacking Trends – Putting the Fun in Functional

Snacking used to be simple. There was junk food on one side and healthy sticks of carrots and celery on the other. As snacking needs evolved, so too have the snacks themselves, blurring the line between indulgent and purposeful. As people settle into a post-COVID-restricted lifestyle and are getting out and about more, they may be turning to snacks to help fill in meal gaps, both in and out of the home. Here are some current snacking trends and why they are important to keep in mind.


Snacks that give you more. People are expecting more from their snacks. People with busy lifestyles are turning to multi-functional products to help fill several needs at once. This is where functional snacks are shining because not only do they offer good noshing, but they can also help add a boost to whatever you may be lacking. Looking for some extra immunity fighters? Upland freeze-dried fruit bites got you covered. Need a brain boost? Mindright’s nootropic-infused snacks offer crunch and substance. 



Without being too dramatic, the world is crazy right now. Stories of goodness and giving back go a long way, and having snack brands that make people feel good, both inside and out, is what people are looking for. While a company’s mission may not make or break a snack sale, it is something that matters to consumers and can go a long way in building brand loyalty. 75% of consumers report buying the same brands often, and 57% believe companies should support causes, whether giving back to communities, supporting local farms and businesses, paying workers a fair wage, or sustainably sourcing.



Throwing a “plant-based” label on a snack is a surefire way to grab shoppers’ attention. More consumers are opting to increase their plant consumption, with 6% of people reporting being on a strictly plant-based diet. Plant-based snacks have a healthy halo, and 55% perceive them as good for their health, and 57% perceive them as better for the environment. Plant-based snacks can range from simple trail mix to plant-based jerky from Beyond Meat.


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High Protein

Protein labels are showing up everywhere, and 32% of consumers are looking for them. Snacks that are high in protein can keep you feeling fuller for longer and fit perfectly in on-the-go lifestyles. Protein bars and meal replacement bars are still classic sellers, offering to fill you up in a convenient bar form. Still, other snacking innovation has included adding protein to snacks or basing the snack on high-protein ingredients, both animal and plant-based. In fact, many plant-based snacks can tout higher protein due to being made from things like pea powder or beans.

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One thing to remember is that taste is still king. While all these trends might drive consumers to try a product, if something doesn’t taste good or isn’t enjoyable to eat, repeat purchases won’t be there. The snacking aisle is full of choices! Brightfield Group Wellness Consumer Insights helps brands resonate,  stand out, and ultimately offer a product that consumers reach for again and again.


Published: 8/31/23