Indulgence still reigns supreme with sweet snacks, but low-sugar options could see more traction in 2023.
“Triple chocolate, chocolate chunk, red velvet, snickerdoodle, Oreo, s’mores and birthday cake flavors continue to perform well in options like snack cakes, brownies and cookies,” said Mike Kostyo, trendologist and associate director for market research firm Datassential.
New product launches from well-known brands like Reese’s Snack Bar and Reese’s Crunchy Snack Cake show how indulgent flavor profiles continue to drive category innovation, he added.
“Consumers continue to gravitate toward sweet snacks with additional health or functional benefits giving them permission to indulge,” Kostyo said, adding growth continues for snacks with more protein, clean ingredient lists, functional ingredients or that are more plant forward/based.
With 47% of consumers indicating they plan to reduce their sugar intake in 2023, low- or no-sugar products will be key, Kostyo said.
“As consumers’ lives continue to get back to normal and they are more active, we’ll see even more on-the-go snacks in the form of bites and poppable options,” he added.
IRI data for sweet snacks — including snack bars, granola bars and clusters — indicated $819 million in 2022 dollar sales, representing a 9.5% growth. Unit sales of 371 million indicated a 2.2% decline, with the price per unit having increased by 11.9%.
No. 1 Category
Sweet snacks is the No. 1 category at the soon-to-be 30 FriendShip Food Stores in Ohio, with Kirk Matthews, the chain’s vice president of foodservice and marketing, noting explosive growth in a category comprising up to 20% of its offerings.
The growth — which began in 2021 — shows no signs of slowing down.
While procurement issues continue for fresh bakery products, packaged sweet snacks are seeing fewer issues in that area.
The sweet snack segment has seen significant category innovation and customer demand for a combination of fresh and pre-packaged sweet snack items, Matthews said.
Matthews said FriendShip has stepped away from national brands to focus on regional products having difficulties getting a foothold into stores because of the national players. He’s doing more direct store delivery with them as well.
For example, Ohio-based Killer Brownie Co. products are doing well.
Matthews noted that while people might say they want to buy “healthy” items, their purchasing habits speak otherwise.
“With everything going on in the world, it’s about going back to the packaged bakery and what they know,” Matthews suggested. “It’s a call for comfort food.”