TNS, a global research consultancy, revealed what it believes are the top 20 snack categories with the most growth potential among US consumers.

Officials say their rankings were identified using Growth Point, a new proprietary directional tool that “captures unmet needs of consumers and category momentum” in US markets. Growth Point generates its rankings from the TNS Consumption Universe, which consists of more than 19,000 consumer interviews and covers 250 food and beverage products.

“Our Growth Point rankings highlight a real opportunity for retailers and manufacturers,” says John Essegian, TNS executive vice president. “Being able to identify where consumer needs and the markets are heading before spending any research dollars not only increases efficiencies and success, but can also greatly accelerate the innovation process.”

The top 20 snack categories that show the most growth potential among consumers are:

Top 20 Snack Categories with Most Growth Potential

Rank   Category

1          Nuts

2          Greek yogurt

3          Regular yogurt

4          Health-oriented cereal

5          Natural/organic crackers

6          Soft tortillas/wraps/pitas

7          Dessert-type yogurt

8          Block/wedge of cheese

9          Cottage cheese

10        String cheese/cheese sticks

11        Protein-based sandwiches (chicken/tuna)

12        Peanut butter

13        Gluten-free bread

14        Guacamole dip

15        Squeezable yogurt

16        Salsa

17        Hot specialty coffee drinks

18        Iced or frozen coffee

19        Fruit smoothies

20        Tuna from can or pouch

“Our rankings indicate that there are growth opportunities for healthy type snacks like nuts, yogurts and natural ingredient based snacks. This doesn’t mean there isn’t room to enjoy more indulgent type items like smoothies and specialty coffee drinks. When we look at protein based snacks – yogurts, cheeses, and peanut butter – their place in our rankings indicate the emerging importance of protein-dense foods in consumer’s diets,” says Essegian. “While our rankings do show a health-oriented skew, it is interesting to note some extremely healthy items like fresh fruits and vegetables, and health bars didn’t make the top 20 ranking. While convenient for any occasion, these categories don’t capture that unique balance of consumer momentum and unmet need. That’s the beauty of Growth Point; it provides clear direction for growth, taking the guesswork out of where you should focus your innovation efforts.”

Growth Point generates its rankings from TNS’s Consumption Universe, which consists of more than 19,000 consumer interviews and covers 250 US food and beverage products. The analysis combines a degree of unmet consumer needs with a degree of momentum that each product area has — momentum meaning consumers are moving into that product segment rather than moving out of it. Where there is both unmet needs and positive momentum, manufacturers can realize significant growth potential.

TNS, New York, N.Y., advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and customer strategies, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. TNS is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP and one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups.