Snack and confectionery products emerged as winners of the Covid-19 pandemic. At-home work translated to many more eating occasions.

Innova Market Insights’ 2022 Snacking Survey found that more than 54% of Americans say they snack two or more times a day. Nearly one-fifth of Americans say they snack four or more times a day.

An increase in new product innovation for snacks and confections tapped into this tendency. According to the Innova Database of new products, launches of snack products rose 3.9% and confectionery products grew 6.6% for the 11-month period ended Nov. 30, 2022, compared to the same year-ago period.


Many snack categories posted double-digit increases in new products including snack nuts and seeds, the largest snack subcategory by new product innovation, popcorn, corn-based snacks, bean-based snacks, and vegetable-based snacks.

Sales A-Poppin! 

Perhaps celebrating the return of the movie theaters—or boosting at-home occasions—popcorn  popcorn launches rose by more than one-third during 2022. This was aided by several launches from household names.

Ready for a sweet treat? The Hershey Company introduced Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème Popcorn. General Mills Convenience launched three cereal-based popcorns: Trix, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cocoa Puffs. It also plans this spring to introduce a Pillsbury Funfetti popcorn option. J&J Snack Food Corp. leveraged its Doc Popcorn and Dippin’ Dots businesses to create a Dippin’ Dots Frosted Caramel Popcorn. Among many new snacks from Trader Joe’s was a Cinnamon Bun Inspired Kettle Popcorn.

Also having fun with flavor were LesserEvil Healthy Brands, LLC, Danbury, Conn., and Los Angeles retailer Thrive Market. They joined forces for a co-branded, exclusive LesserEvil x Thrive Market Elote flavored popcorn. Another new LesserEvil product was a Watermelon Hibiscus Popcorn, which went the “sweet without guilt” for a popcorn flavored by real fruit and a popular botanical flavor.

Don’t look now but there’s heat at the other end of the spectrum. PepsiCo’s Smartfoods brand introduced a limited-time Frank’s Red Hot Flavored Popcorn. Barcel USA (Groupo Bimbo), Horsham, Pa., extended its Takis rolled tortilla chip into popcorn with Takis Pop! Fuego Popcorn.

On a slightly milder note, Rob’s Backstage Popcorn partnered with global pop sensation Kelly Clarkson to create Kelly’s Classic BBQ, a Southern spin on Rob’s signature recipe inspired by Clarkson’s Texan roots.

Officials say Clarkson helped develop a sweet and smoky barbecue flavor profile.

Crispy & Crunchy

Corn-based snacks—a category including tortilla chips and more—saw launches increase by more than 15% in 2022. General Mills took its Old El Paso brand into the snack aisle with three flavors of Old El Paso Fiesta Twists (Queso, Zesty Ranch and Cinnamon Churro) with an airy, twisty shape. Although made with corn, Frito-Lay North America’s new Sun Chips Spicy Jalapeno Chips touted black beans as a signature ingredient.

Frito-Lay’s Doritos Tortilla Chips brand went in some unconventional flavor directions with Ketchup and Mustard flavored chips plus Sweet & Tangy BBQ flavored chips. Retailer Trader Joe’s also had fun with new Maple Pancake Flavored Puffs, a corn and rice snack leveraging a popular breakfast flavor.

Potato chip launches were flat, but flavor innovation was not. Aldi introduced Journey to Greece Tzatziki Flavored Kettle Chips. Barcel USA (Groupo Bimbo), Horsham, Pa., extended its Takis brand into potato chips with Takis Kettlez Kettle Cooked Potato Chips in flavors like Habanero Fury. Frito-Lay also extended Lay’s with a Kettle Cooked Fritos Chili Cheese flavor.

Frito-Lay also had fun with form, texture, shape and size. It ended last year with six new Minis versions of Doritos, Cheetos and SunChips (two flavor varieties each) in canister packaging. Frito-Lay also extended its Ruffles brand with two flavors of new Ruffles Ridge Twists Potato Snacks. Instead of a standard chip with ridges, the new snacks are shaped as potato spirals. Frito-Lay also added circular, “multi-dimensional” Lay’s Layers Crispy Layered Potato Bites.

Of course, not all chips are based on potatoes. Just Pure Foods, San Diego greeted 2023 Crunchy Tomato Chips in three flavors (Spicy Jalapeño, Cheesy, Barbecue). Green Pack Snacks Inc., New York, N.Y., extended its popular HIPPEAS brand with a Nacho Vibes Chickpea Tortilla Chip flavor. Last fall saw Gimme Health Foods Inc., San Rafael, Calif., celebrate 10 years with new packaging and two new flavors in its gimme Seaweed crisps line: Non-Dairy White Cheddar and Chili Lime flavors. Speaking of crisps, Dirt Kitchen Snacks extended its namesake line last fall with Smoky Barbecue Carrot Crisps. With another twist on carrots was Eat the Change, Bethesda, Md. It launched Organic Carrot Chews in three new varieties: Meyer Lemon, Ginger Turmeric, and Maple Cardamom.

Novel flavors powered other snack innovation, from Blue Diamond Growers’ Snickerdoodle or Chilé n Lime flavored Almonds to Asian inspired Irvins Salted Egg Cassava Chips from Cocoba USA LLC, Arcadia, Calif.

Meat snacks, a fast-growing snack category in recent years, cooled in 2022. One interesting new launch involved meat alternative giant Beyond Meat Inc., El Segundo, Calif., and its namesake Beyond Meat Jerky.

Sweet Treats

Gummy candies, marshmallows, licorice, and chocolate pieces helped drive growth in confectionery launches in 2022 with each category posting double-digit launch gains.

Gummies made the most noise on the new product front. The Hershey Company extended its Twizzlers licorice brand with Twizzlers Gummies. Kraft Foods extended its Jell-O gelatin dessert brand with Jell-O Gummy Candy. Galerie USA LLC, Hebon, Ky., partnered with Kellogg Company to create Froot Loops Gummies. How about a gum brand in the gummy category? This February saw Bazooka Candy Brands, New York, N.Y., extend its Push Pop brand into Push Pop Gummy Pop-its. Finally, Stealth Health Inc., Ventura, Calif., also launched TiDBiTS Gummies, a low-carb, low-sugar option with 16g of prebiotic, plant-based fiber.

Marshmallows had been a sleepy category until recently but woke up to launches like Stuffed Puffs Big Bites Filled Marshmallows with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Flavor (Stuffed Puffs LLC, Bethlehem, Pa.) and Mallowow Cake Walk Delicious Snacking Marshmallows (Melville Candy Corp., Randolph, Mass.)

Plant-based innovation gained a foothold in confectionery, especially in chocolate products. Oat milk is a plant-based dairy alternative to keep an eye on. New offerings include a Berry Crunch Oat Milk White Chocolate from with the UK’s H!P Oat Milk Chocolate (H!P Chocolate, London) and Oat Chocolate Bars from Trader Joe’s. Joining the category this January was Moon Magic Inc., Vancouver, B.C., with six chocolate bar varieties featuring a blend of oat and almond milk ingredients.

Refresh X Inc., New York, N.Y., introduced its namesake Refresh Plant-Based Gum (sugar free) and demonstrated that plant-based also applies to chewing gum. There’s an interesting snacking twist between chocolate and gum with Mondelez International’s Hu Gems Salty Snacking Chocolate. They include a “vegan” claim but avoid any plant-based reference.

Hershey also blurred the lines between sweets and cereals. One of its new offerings was a Reese’s Big Cup with Reese’s Puffs. This Big Cup product’s peanut butter filling is studded with large Reese’s Puffs cereal pieces mixed in for a novel texture and flavor experience.

Seasonal and limited-edition flavors are powering confectionery innovation. According to the Innova Database, seasonal and/or limited-edition products accounted for around 35% of confectionery innovation in 2022, up from around 29% in 2021.

The trend is bullish for launches such as Hershey Company’s Kit Kat Limited Edition Blueberry Muffin Crisp Wafer as well as Hostess Twinkies Candy Canes.

Fun was the name of the game for other launches. Starburst FaveREDS Cherry & Strawberry Cotton Candy was all about fun as was Jell-O Chocolate Pudding Cups. The latter example from Kraft moves its popular gelatin brand into chocolates—with the appearance of a peanut butter style cup.

Chicago’s Ferrara Candy Company introduced SweeTARTS Soft and Chewy Twisted Spring Punch Ropes. It’s a twisted flavor concept in the filled ropes confectionery format, a product type that is gaining momentum.