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    What Today's Health Conscious Consumers Want from Snacks

    Health is on the minds of more consumers now than ever before. Whether it’s wanting healthier versions of snack foods or soft drinks, or searching for products that cater to a particular dietary need, the quest for a healthier lifestyle is evident wherever you look. Today’s engaged, better educated, health-conscious consumer is increasingly reaching for items that promote gut health, good digestion, a natural pick-me-up; those ranges lower in sugar, salts and fats, which boost healthy metabolism and ideally avoid gluten, dairy and non natural ingredients in the process.

    "In the Current Climate, Should I Be Adding More Healthy Snacks?"

    Consumers are much more interested in what they put inside their bodies. People are willing to spend that bit extra if it means they’re consuming better for you alternatives which make them feel good. Here we'll discuss the benefits of offering a wider selection of healthy impulse snacks and why Covid-19 is reinforcing the need for well-being brands....

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    Rise and Future of the Health Conscious Consumer

    Consumers view their health and wellness holistically, incorporating a balanced set of lifestyle habits that ladder up to a more general sense of feeling well. Eating real, less processed food is the linchpin of both health and wellness – and becomes an important component of supporting mental health and cognition.

    Products and brands which offer healthier options in a convenient way are growing in popularity as they complement busy consumer lifestyles, and serve as a healthier alternative to the dated misconception about snacking being purely unhealthy junk. As consumers become aware of the impact of diet, in particular daily snacking, on general wellness and mind, more will seek those healthy alternatives. Millennials in particular are leading the charge by making health-promoting diet and lifestyle choices a priority.

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    If social media hasn’t already made it obvious, the rise of the health conscious consumer continues to dominate snacking in the public forum. People like to show their peers what they're snacking and using in recipes, so long as it's the accepted healthier alternative. For example, having made the cut the past few years, popcorn has firmly established itself as a ‘healthier’ alternative to the humble crisp and peanut butter’s addition to our pantry spreads as our go-to sources of ‘healthy fats’.

    Meanwhile the addition of herbal and fruit teas to our daily lives is testament to the growing prominence of wellness in our everyday cuppa, similarly the growth in craft meat snacks and sodas have shown things we've come to recognise as mass produced and faceless, are now available in better for you, carefully curated versions with a real story behind them.

    Clean and clearer labelling of food production, as well as provenance and nutrition, has enabled the majority of us to become savvy consumers. It might likely be mandatory one day to disclose how something is grown and whether anything is added to that process, as well as highlight the potential impact ingredients may have on human health. It's to be expected consumers will be more inclined to make further significant changes to their lifestyles, with a focus on more sustainable diets. All signs indicate a sophisticated understanding of digestion and gut health will spread across all consumers. Innovative snack brands will increasingly develop a real passion for food culture and will understand the progressive health and wellness consumer better, so they can authentically speak to mainstream consumer health conscious.

    How Coronavirus Has Affected Mindsets

    A recent Tastewise report found consumers have been increasingly looking for food and beverage options that offer functional benefits during the past year, but interest has risen even more during Covid-19. In this time of global pandemic, consumers are increasingly aware of their health and practices necessary to defend it. The study found 45% more consumers year-over-year were focused on functional food with the intention of treating health concerns. Its also worth noting that internet searches for kombucha for health reasons grew 73% month-over-month. These consumer insights show that coronavirus has not ended the functional and health food trend, but rather more consumers have health at top-of-mind during the pandemic and are craving food and beverage products that offer beneficial health claims.

    In light of the recent acceleration of online shopping, arguably which could lead to a change in people’s shopping habits - those snacks which boost and maintain exercise, home work outs, better health, serotonin power - all of which are going to be the ones most in demand. Independent Retailers will need to signpost healthier snacking in store and highlight these are the functional benefits people are looking for but might not know the snacks which offer them.

    Impact on Convenience Retailers

    The popularity of food-to-go and healthy snacking has never been greater. Convenience and food-to-go are increasingly intertwined, with becoming increasingly critical to the prospects of most convenience stores. Just as consumer trends focusing ever more so on health and wellness, and health claims becoming even more prominent, the move towards working from home and travelling less, has shifted a considerable amount of consumer spending from city centres to local community retailers and venues. This shift to local convenience is not new, (and neither are health conscious consumers there's just a wider acceptance among the mainstream of healthier foods) and now more than ever,  its vital independent retailers provide a greater choice of healthier options to attract a wider audience.

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    With competition increasing from the major multi and online, it’s time to think for independent retailers to match up to against local competition – including the major multiples, online retailers and high street coffee chains. It's no surprise you'll see healthier snack bars such as KIND, Nakd and Grenade often up-sold alongside branded coffees, and alternative grain crisps (quinoa, chickpeas, lentils) a mainstay in a meal deals. Busy lifestyles and less structured eating patterns mean all day offerings are also playing a big part. Mealtimes and meal formats have blurred, resulting in a surge of snacking opportunities. The fast-paced world of snacking means it is essential to stay relevant in the market, ensuring your range is fresh, fast and healthy, as well as tasty, good value and convenient appealing to the health conscious consumer

    Most convenience stores today need an increasing wealth of options for the health conscious consumer amid a rise in people becoming more aware and attune with what they're consuming. But how do retailers crack the healthy market? From the healthiest of crisp alternatives, to protein packed bars and drinks loaded with probiotics, to a wide variety of diet-friendly low-calorie foods, there's a wealth of choice to choose from. But why are consuming seeking them out?

    The Snacks and Drinks Health Conscious Consumers Want...

    Indeed, most of us know by now that we should eat more healthily by increasing the amount of super grains we consume each day, introducing fibre-rich foods and proteins to our diet and reducing the amount of fat and processed sugars we eat. However, this awareness of the importance of healthy eating means that there are significant marketing opportunities for retailing stocking the brands and categories emphasise the health aspect of their products. Today's health conscious snacker is looking for...

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    Sourcing more proteins

    Protein based snacks have become a regular staple for a large chunk of consumers; not just gym goers but students, busy commuters and casual snackers. High-quality protein packs a real punch when it comes to your health. And consumers are seeking protein for their fitness regimes whilst research suggests that a little extra protein might make you feel fuller so you can get through the day.

    Brands are actively calling out protein content on front panels more often, and in some cases position their entire branding around it. Consumers have become aware of the need for protein in their diet; for health, nutrition and well being. The continued assumption that protein equals healthy continues. We’re seeing some great innovative formats in 2020 including new ready to drink shakes, protein waters, nut butters and ‘meat-like’ plant based jerky.

    Wanting to reduce meat intake

    perkier plant based snacksThe last 12 months have seen more plant-based options than ever before, especially when it comes to plant proteins and vegan versions of classic desserts. And this trend isn’t slowing down any time soon.  As people become more conscious about the sourcing of foods, plant-based proteins will likely gain more momentum in the coming years. Overall consumers have been encouraged to eat less processed meat and businesses - from food producers, fast food restaurants and workplaces - have responded. Increasingly we are all seeing consumers select products based on aspirational goals, as well as dietary choices – many are limiting their general meat and dairy consumption through initiatives such as ‘Meat Free Mondays’ or campaigns such as ‘Veganuary’ - both enjoying record numbers and coverage earlier this year.

    Less is more with free from

    Just as vegan food has conquered a variety of popular meat-based foods, from burgers to sausages to mince, so too has the burgeoning free-from snack market produced varieties of almost every variety – from the dairy-free chocolate, to the sugar-free treats and gluten-free gummy sweets.

    No matter what intolerance is bothering your customers, as we discuss here there is a delicious, healthy and pocket-friendly gluten-free alternative to be found. Last year alone, over 42% of us have chosen something from the free-from aisle in our weekly shop.

    A turn away from alcohol

    While Dry January is a popular way to start the year on a healthier note, more and more people are jumping on the alcohol-free lifestyle year-round. Millennials and Generation Z are drinking less in general and it was inevitable drink brands would come up with a creative solutions. More and more ranges are being introduced as we saw in our recent post. Plus, countless restaurants and bars around the country have included 'mocktails' on their menus, and there are even some non-alcoholic bars opening up across the country!

    In fact, in the 12 weeks to 21 March, category sales £31.3m (Nielsen), which is up 18% (£4.8m) compared to the same period in 2019 with consumers clearly wanting to enjoy great tasting alcohol-free drinks at home.

    A natural energy boost

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    Sports and energy drinks exploded on to the scene two decades ago and has since become a mainstay everyday product for many consumers in the UK. As consumers increasingly look for quick ways to reduce their daily sugar intake, innovative brands have taken the lead, replacing refined sugars with natural alternatives – making them a great choice for a range a wider audience.

    The notion of clean energy - drinks not packed with synthetic ingredients and sugar like traditional energy drinks - is a phrase set to become the norm. Those that play on natural credentials are seeing the most success. Plenty of emerging brands are looking to get in on the act including Vita Coco who unveiled their very ‘clean energy’ drink Runa, which gets its energy from ‘super leaf’ guayusa, last year.

    Mindful benefits

    A year ago, CBD may not have even been on your radar or you might have never even heard of it! Now, it’s in drinks, snack bars, skincare,  lotions, and even clothing. Surveys have revealed that between 8- 11% of UK adults respectively – around 4-6 million people – have tried it. The CBD trend has certainly made an impact on the food world. Products include oat bars, RTD drinks, gums and even coffee. CBD’s popularity shows no signs of slowing down and will continue to be as we continue to learn more about its many benefits.

    Through a focus on functional foods, wellness-focused brands are making it easier to get consumers looking after their mental and physical health. The rise and evolution of wellness-focused diets such as paleo, keto and high fibre have shown consumers is a clear signs consumers are wanting to look after themselves. Health conscious consumers looking for something that fits their lifestyle better than a bowl of cereal or plate of scrambled eggs. Kombucha, probiotics, nootropics and kefir recipes are set to increasingly feature in brand claims.

    Opportunities Ahead

    Where consumers once viewed snacks as purely indulgences, something that we just ate; today’s shoppers increasingly look for snacks that can help them achieve their health and wellness goals. And it’s not so much that consumers are turning away from healthier home cooking, vitamins or supplements. Rather, they are also expecting more from the snacks and drinks they consume. Consumers want honest ingredients and can see through supposed health claims of not so healthy snack brands. Beyond snacks, functional foods have a more prominent place at the table and in everyday life as consumer desires shift with the current health crisis, not just for the health conscious consumer, but the general population.
     
    Having a wider selection of trendy health drinks also not only begins opening existing customers to a wider selection of options, but also help to attract a new audience to your business and helps keeps a sense of wellness when working from home. Key to achieving this success is the ability to react quickly to trends, keeping stock levels nimble and finding the right mix of popular challenger brands and niche new finds. If you're interested in keeping up with the latest trends for 2020, then we are the ideal partner to work with.
     
    To discover more about the fun world of healthier snacking browse our website or alternatively get in touch with a member of our team to discuss how to integrate new ranges into your snack and drink mix. With a quick turnaround of 24-48 hours, no minimum order and free delivery on any order over £80, our team here at Epicurium can have you tapping into the newest healthier snacks, from the UK and further afield, in no time.
     
     Stay safe everyone - Team Epicurium