Snacking has long been a cornerstone of the American diet. A recent survey revealed that over half of respondents (52%) enjoy snacks between meals.1 While the “fourth meal” is a mainstay, consumers are always craving new and unexpected flavors and ingredients. According to Mintel, 41% of salty snack buyers like to try new kinds of salty snacks.2
Consumer expectations and preferences for snacks have evolved to meet on-the-go lifestyles, health preferences and a hunger for new, bold flavors. Here, we look at two prevailing snack trends—flavor and function—that apply to potatoes, and how manufacturers can market and innovate snack foods to capture consumer cravings.
Flavor & Formats
When it comes to snacks, the options are endless. Traditional mediums like potato chips are great for bold flavors. Consumers who self-report as “adventurous eaters and food involved” are a key driver of potato chip popularity. To differentiate within the competitive grocery landscape, many retailers are offering potato chips made in house, denoting a fresh, innovative appeal.
Potato-based snacks capture a 14% share of the snack category.3 The chip aisle is a safe space where consumers are comfortable to branch out and try new flavors and formats. Potatoes are a blank canvas for hundreds of flavor combinations. This is why unexpected flavors—such as chicken, pork, jalapeno chili, sweet chili, paprika, soy sauce, ham and yogurt—all grew in popularity in 2018.3 Next on the horizon could be salted egg yolk, seafood inspirations like chili crab and fish skin, and savory flavors including steak and chicken—all of which are currently popular internationally.
Food manufacturers are starting to discover potatoes versatility as a snack food beyond fried chips—including baked and kettle cooked. In addition, through the extrusion process, potato-based mixtures can be formulated in appealing shapes and textures, including puffs, sticks, pop chips and curls.
Dehydrated potato products like potato flour and flakes are starting to serve as the key ingredient for gluten-free crackers, cookies and confections. Dehydrated potato products can be classified in four categories: flakes, flour, granules and pieces of dehydrated potatoes. Each product has unique characteristics ideal for different snack food applications.
According to Mintel, 48% of salty snack buyers wish there were more healthy snack options.2 This explains the rising popularity of snacks with flavorings that mirror probiotic-rich sauerkraut and mineral-rich seaweed. Snack manufacturers have a lot to gain by marketing functional ingredients.
Snack manufacturers can capture consumer interest by touting the functional benefits of potatoes. They provide the carbohydrate, potassium and energy needed for active individuals to perform at their best. Consumer research validates awareness of potatoes as a nutritious option, with 62% of respondents saying potatoes are healthy for you. 1
Satisfy snack cravings with both flavor and function by choosing potatoes.
To learn more about potato performance and discover product inspirations, visit PotatoGoodness.com/ingredient.
Rachael Lynch is global marketing manager for Potatoes USA. Visit www.potatoesusa.com for more information.
1. Potatoes USA. “2018 Consumer A&U Quantitative Report.” March 2018. slide 18
2. Mintel. “Trendspotting at the 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo.” June 2018.
3. Innova Market Insights. “Potato Based Snacks.” (slide 3 and 22) October 2018.