Healthy-ingredient snacks offer the perfect convergence of many important modern food industry trends and as a result the segment is thriving. Portable? Check. Healthy? Check. Transparent labels and packaging? Check. As a result of these factors, among others, the past half decade has seen steady growth for healthy-ingredient snacks. The market's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7% has outpaced overall food and beverage sales growth.

The findings were featured in Healthy-Ingredient Snacks in the U.S., 2nd Edition, a recently released report by market research firm Packaged Facts. In the report, Packaged Facts includes meat snacks, snack bars, snack nuts, fruit snacks, and trail mixes in its research scope for healthy-ingredient snacks. Healthy-Ingredient Snacks in the U.S., 2nd Edition is available at:

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. Packaged Facts projects the healthy-ingredient snack segment will continue enjoying steady growth in sales. A CAGR of 5.7% is expected between 2016 and 2020.

A variety of industry trends are responsible for this bullish outlook:

  • There is a growing preference amongst 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.
  • There has been an increase in the percentage of adults who believe they snack healthier, which has climbed to 30% in the last decade. Relatedly, younger Americans are more likely to believe they eat healthier than are older adults.
  • Finally, the term "natural" as a marketing tool may have to change if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopts regulations concerning the term.

Not to be overlooked is retailers increasingly marketing private label healthy snacks. Many different retail chains have recognized the growing interest of consumers for healthy-ingredient snacks. These chains are not only developing and introducing new products to the segment, but are starting to spend more money and effort advertising those products as well. In the convenience channel, the most notable new brand is 7-Eleven's 7-Select Go!Smart brand and its yogurt-drizzled snack bars. In the natural channel, Trader Joe's does a significant amount of in-store ads and out of category displays for its many distinctive private label healthy-ingredient snacks.

Supermarket chain Aldi introduced its Simply Nature line of all natural and organic foods at the beginning of 2014, and continues to support and advertise the brand as a permanent addition to its Private Brand portfolio. The brand includes fruit and nut bars, energy bars, and fruit snacks as part of its offerings.