SNAC International – Virginia, USA

August 30, 2023
SNAC International - Virginia, USA

SNAC International

Snacking Fuels Consumers and the U.S. Economy Through Innovation


Representing the snacking industry; SNAC International tackles the issues the ‘feed’ the industry

While snacking innovation comes from all corners of our industry – from emerging entrepreneurs to multinational companies – the category has a tremendous positive impact on our economy.

SNAC International, the trade association for the global snack industry with over 400 member companies worldwide, recently commissioned a study with Circana, examining key parameters related to the impact snack manufacturing and related categories have on U.S. economic performance.

The study found that total snacking and snacking adjacent categories have reached $186.4 billion in annual sales, which is larger than the GDP of the Dominican Republic. These categories make up more than a quarter of all food and beverage sales in the U.S. The snack industry employs 395,000 workers garnering a total of $15 billion in annual wages, and generates $11 billion in tax revenue collected from sales, income and corporate taxes. To put this into perspective, the U.S. snack industry is over six times the size of the U.S. Entertainment Segment and employs almost as many people as the population of Denver. The top four states for snack manufacturing include California, Texas, Illinois and Georgia.

The category has grown to reach such immense size and impact due to snacking becoming a fabric woven into the American consumer’s daily life, and manufacturers have responded with innovation in flavor, healthy ingredients, and even attributes that provide benefits beyond nutrition. Savory snacks as a whole have grown over 15% in dollar sales over the past year. According to Circana, 49% of consumers have three-plus snacks per day, which is up by four points in the last two years. For these frequent snackers, the biggest upticks for snacking come during the morning and late evening dayparts.

The snacking explosion is not a new story. Over the last ten years, snacking has taken off due to an increase in consumers’ mobility and on-the-go eating habits. Americans turned to the snack category as they were consuming ‘mini meals’ and replacing larger, sit-down meal occasions with snacks. This has led to a category that has been redefined and has expanded its boundaries from center-store to many different parts of the grocery store. Manufacturers have had to innovate keep up with – and exceed – consumer demands.

SNAC International - Virginia, USA

Much of this innovation has come in the form of nontraditional, better-for-you ingredients. We’re seeing products like tortilla chips being made with organic tigernut flour, cassava flour, chickpea flour, peat protein, and much more. Extruded, “puffed” snacks are being produced with vegetables like spinach, carrots, and tomatoes. These products are also touting higher-protein offerings to satisfy people’s need for more satiating options while they’re on the go.

Snack bars are another category that is blossoming with innovation. While the category struggled during COVID lockdowns due to its “on-the-go” positioning, bars are primed for recovery in the next few years as people seek variety in their meal replacement options. We’re seeing snack bars featuring turmeric for anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as ashwaganda for its perceived immune and brain health attributes. The snack category in general has been the home for sprouted ingredients nuts, legumes and seeds, which ease digestion and add to the nutritional profile. Some snack bars are also targeting very specific consumers, like Crafted Energy with its Runner and Cyclist Bars, which markets its cashew ingredients to ease muscle soreness.

More than ever before, the growth in every category of snacks is being driven by flavor. For many snackers, there is no such thing as “too hot,” and snack producers are turning up the heat across the board. However, the true flavor innovation lies within nuance. We’re seeing super-hot and spicy being paired with sweet flavors, hints of lime, chile, chipotle adobo, cheese, and much more. We’re also seeing sweet flavors becoming more popular – fruit, chocolate, maple and nut butters. Snackers have also become more adventurous, willing to explore new flavors, and especially international flavors originating from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

One category of snacks that has especially benefitted from this flavor innovation is pretzels. Pretzel sales have reached almost $2 billion annually, growing more than 17% in the past year. Many manufacturers are experimenting with flavored pretzels, leading to increases in sales. Zapp’s, an Utz Brand (Hanover, PA), has released Voodoo flavored pretzels, a crossover from the potato chip category. Herr Foods (Nottingham, PA) has released pub style pretzels with flavors like jalapeno cheddar. Unique Snacks (Reading, PA) has developed Puffzels, a flavored snack that is shaped like a pretzel but is actually a corn-based puffed snack. Unique Snacks also produces a line of organic, Sprouted Pretzel Shells, made with whole-grains, capitalizing on consumers’ better-for-you preferences.

An emerging story around the snacking category is the one around holistic health. For many snackers, while they choose snacks with a variety of factors in mind, they all amount to their own sense of holistic health. This could refer to their own nutritional goals, their mental health, or the health of the environment, which is why better-for-you and better-for-the planet are so closely intertwined. While taste continues to remain supreme, a well-rounded lifestyle as it relates to consumers’ sense of health is becoming almost as important.

Snack producers, along with the supply chain – companies providing ingredients, equipment, packaging, transportation services, and more – have made tremendous strides relating to sustainability, and they continue to set aggressive goals in the future. Over the last few years, shoppers have purchased more and more snacks that are marketed with sustainable attributes. Attributes like reduced or recycled packaging materials, companies with B Corp Certifications, humane sourcing practices, renewable energy used in transportation and manufacturing, fair trade, and many more.

SNAC International’s vision is to connect the snack industry to create growth and opportunity. Through SNAC’s educational and networking events, we bring the entire supply chain together, from ingredient suppliers to snack producers, to foster a community of collaboration and innovation. Upcoming this fall, Oct. 15-17 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO, we’re bringing 130 of our senior leaders together to discuss trends and global issues with industry thought leaders, and to network during recreational activities. If you’re involved in the snack industry in any way, I encourage you to learn more about how SNAC International can benefit your growth goals by visiting, or reaching out to any member of the SNAC staff.

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SNAC International


SNAC International

WHAT: The leading trade association that represents the needs of, and advocates on behalf of its valued members in the snack-based food industry

WHERE: Virginia, USA


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