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    Healthy Snacks Thriving, Benefitting From Several Trends

    "Free from," "natural" labels contribute to growth.

    ROCKVILLE, Md. — The past five years have seen steady growth for healthy-ingredient snacks, with the market's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7 percent outpacing overall food and beverage sales growth, according to Healthy-Ingredient Snacks in the U.S., 2nd Edition, a new report by Packaged Facts.

    Healthy-ingredient snacks include meat snacks, snack bars, snack nuts, fruit snacks and trail mixes.

    The past two years in particular have seen much stronger market growth due to double-digit gains in the meat snack and trail mix categories in 2014, and stronger growth in snack bars in 2015, according to Packaged Facts. The market research firm predicts that the healthy-ingredient snack segment will continue to see steady growth in sales with a CAGR of 5.7 percent expected between 2016 and 2020.

    Factors behind this forecast include:

    • A growing preference among snackers for products that provide more healthful options than typical snacks.
    • "Free from" remains a top driving trend for healthy-ingredient snack sales, with allergen- and gluten-free claims the most popular.
    • Protein, bite-sized snacks and innovative flavors are in high demand.
    • The percentage of adults who believe they snack healthier has increased, climbing to 30 percent in the last decade. Additionally, younger Americans are more likely to believe they eat healthier than older adults are.
    • The term "natural" as a marketing tool may have to change if the Food and Drug Administration adopts regulations concerning the term.

    Retailers are also increasingly marketing private label snacks, as many different chains have recognized the growing interest of consumers for healthy-ingredient snacks. Along with developing and introducing new products to the segment, these chains are also starting to spend more money and effort advertising those products. The most notable new brand in the convenience channel is 7-Eleven's 7-Select Go!Smart brand and its yogurt-drizzled snack bars, Packaged Facts said.

    Beyond healthy-ingredient snack sales, many retailers are starting to highlight healthier snacking in general by providing more information and easier access to healthy snacks within the store.

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