Healthy snacks fill aisles

Consumers are snacking more than ever, but they aren't necessarily reaching for a bag of chips and a can of soda.

"To consumers, a snack can be anything," said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. "In fact, when we ask people in the United States what snacks they consume, their top five responses are fresh fruit, cheese, cereal, ice cream and yogurt. As you can see, healthy choices dominate." Chocolate, she said, comes in sixth.

Dornblaser said snacks go far beyond the typical categories — chips, popcorn and bars — and extend to almost anything that can be consumed in an easy, portable format. "I think that helps to explain the rise of Greek yogurt, especially in the United States, as it is often consumed as a healthy snack," she said.

What will consumers want in the future? "Companies have a real opportunity to offer consumers snacks that are in unusual formats, flavors and offer unique benefits," Dornblaser said.

"Keep in mind, too, that beverages stand in for snacks, as we see with all the custom-made and bottled smoothie drinks on the market," she said.

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