Consumers aren’t willing to give up on their treats and snacks, but they do want healthier, more nutritious alternatives that fit into their diet routines. As a result, “healthy” snacks that are gluten-free, organic, and whole-grain, are becoming more available in the savory snacks sector.
Low and no carb are sidelined by brands
We’re seeing a significant increase in the market for these types of healthy snacks, but low or no carb snacks are still vastly under-addressed by the market, even though they are highly discussed by consumers.
Gluten-free snacks have a product offering of over 35%, which is more than twice the rate of mentions in consumer discussion. Whole-grain and organic snacks both have a product field which is roughly proportional to their level of consumer discussion.
In contrast, low and no carb snacks are represented in consumer discussion at a rate of around 8%, but their representative product offering is only around 4%. Consumer discussion has been rising rapidly, showing an increase of roughly 25% in the last two years.
Features in the savory snacks ecosystem, comparing products in market vs. consumer discussions (US Data Apr. 2017 – Mar. 2019)
The health associations of low and no carb snacks
In the eyes of consumers, low and no carb snacks are heavily associated with weight management and nutritional benefits, far more than the savory snacks that are generally available. The savory snacks market as a whole has a relatively low association with nutritional benefits and weight management. Consumers are overall more concerned with affordability.
Consumer perception of benefits – low/no Carb (left chart) vs. entire savory snacks ecosystem (right chart) (US Data Apr. 2017 – Mar. 2019)
Beef jerky dominates the market
Not surprisingly, jerky as a product form has the highest offering of low and no carb snacks. There are three times as many low or no carb jerky products than the next leading product within the category. Nonetheless, low or no carb consumers want more than just jerky, with current inclinations towards vegan and organic. This leaves a massive opportunity for brands to catch up on the trend.
Available products in the market, by solution type, savory snacks ecosystem – low/no carb (US Data Apr. 2017 – Mar. 2019)
Leading brands miss the opportunity
At the moment, none of the leading brands have seized the opportunity of low or no carb snacks. Only small, niche players are fielding a significant low or no carb product offering that does not focus on jerky. The two leading brands in this sector are Cheddies and ParmCrisps, both of them niche players.
Leading competitors addressing consumer needs, low/no carbs, savory snacks ecosystem (US Data Apr. 2017 – Mar. 2019)
Shrewd Food plays it smart with protein chips
One popular low carb product is the Brickoven Pizza Protein Crisps by Shrewd Food. They’re a low carb snack made to taste just like crispy pizza, with not a jerky in sight. They are also gluten-free and low in sugar and fat, which shows how low carb snacks cross into other healthy snack categories.
Low/no carb snacks have a long way to go
Even though low and no carb snacks are highly popular among consumers, their accompanying market share is surprisingly low. Given that the majority of low or no carb snacks on offer are variations on a theme of jerky, it’s clear that there’s plenty of room for the market to expand.
While there are currently a number of smaller niche brands jockeying for position as product leaders, there’s still room for one or more of the leading brands to expand into this market space – or for a niche brand to emerge to dominate the market.
Written by Gal Erez
CPG/F&B Business Consultant at Signals Analytics
Gal has vast experience in market analysis, strategy and marketing, which she gained working for one of Israel's biggest F&B companies. At Signals Analytics, she works across various industries, including CSD and Energy Drinks, Dry and Frozen Foods.
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