Snacking never goes out of style, but like all things, it changes over time. Healthy snacking is on the rise, with new trends like organic and gluten-free options gaining popularity. With the Sweets and Snacks Expo coming up, now’s the perfect time to brush up on the hottest trends in snacking and make sure your products align with consumer interests.

With around 800 exhibitors and 18,000 industry professionals attending, make the most of your experience at the convention by being prepared.

6 snacking trends of 2018

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the most prominent snacking trends of 2018. Whether you create sweets or snacks, keeping up on current trends will help your brand hit the customer’s sweet spot. Dive in, and consider increasing your product list.

1. Healthy eating

Clean eating isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Organic, raw, gluten-free—it’s all popular and will continue to gain traction. If you offer products that use healthy ingredients consumers can pronounce and recognize, you’ve won half the battle. Junk food will always find a market, but consumers are getting smarter about nutrition and are looking for brands that take their health seriously.

2. Plant-based protein

Plant-based protein is hot right now. Complete proteins like soy, quinoa, and chia seeds are popular, as are incomplete proteins, like peas, broccoli, and spinach. Customers are looking for snacks that supplement their diet, without adding unnecessary sugars and carbs. In fact, a healthy, protein-packed snack in the afternoon can curb cravings, and limit overall calorie consumption. Plant-based proteins continue to take the snacking world by storm, so consider capitalizing on this trend.

3. New flavor combinations

As evidenced by the 800 vendors coming to the Sweets and Snacks expo, the snack industry is competitive and diverse. That means no bland flavors are allowed! As we’ve said, customers want healthy snacking options, but they also want those options to be tasty. Now’s the time to get creative and try new flavor combinations. Give unconventional fruits, like dragon fruit or passion fruit a try, or consider unique spice blends inspired by local and international cuisines. There are plenty of flavors just waiting to be discovered.

4. Transparent ingredients

Consumers are demanding transparency of the food industry as a whole. They want to know where their snacks are coming from and what they’re putting into their bodies. Most products use additives, but eliminating the artificial dyes and substituting natural and safely preserved ingredients is a great way to improve your product’s transparency and quality—and your customers will notice.

5. Convenient single-serve snacks

Convenience is key these days. Individually packaged, single-serve snacks complement consumers’ on-the-go lives. Prepackaged snacks are portion controlled, taking away the stress of overeating. This can promote weight loss and a shift towards healthy living. Single servings of trail mix and savory snacks like crackers or crisps are especially popular, as they’re a more convenient way to enjoy more indulgent foods. Consider offering single-servings of your product, and see what happens.

6. Kid-friendly snacking

Kids are major snackers and the products they like tend to get the most airtime. Crafting organic snacks packed with plant protein may be ideal for adults, but kids are their own market. So if you’re striving to reach kids, create a snack that’s simple, easy to prepare, and healthy. That’ll appeal to both the kids and their parents.

With these trends in mind, your brand will be ready to take on the Sweets and Snacks Expo. If you need help sourcing healthy ingredients for new products, check out our free e-book about the benefits of freeze-dried ingredients. For more information on Mercer’s freeze-drying process, get in touch via Facebook or LinkedIn.