The Hummus Among Us: Trends in Snacks & Dry Grocery  4/18/2017

The two winners of the ECRM/MMR Buyers Choice Awards, held recently at ECRM’s Winter Snack & Dry Grocery EPPS, are indicative of some key trends that are playing out in food retail: consumers’ move toward healthy foods and proteins (particularly plant-based proteins), and their quest for more interesting and unique flavors, trends that were cited repeatedly by attendees of the meetings.

“People are searching for more authenticity and simple, genuine ingredients, as well as clean labels and less processed foods,” said one attendee.

The winner for the snack category was Baruvi Fresh’s Hummustir, a USDA certified organic hummus that, according to the company, offers consumers an authentic dip and spread that uses non-GMO ingredients free from preservatives and other harsh chemicals. “It gives consumers the ability to make on-demand fresh hummus.”

Hummus has played a key role in the healthy-snack trend, and is a favorite of vegans and vegetarians – a quickly growing market. And according to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, U.S. Farmers are expected to plant 53 percent more acres of chickpeas this year than in 2016 to meet the demand. Such natural and healthy snack options are popular with Millennials, who have grown up eating healthier, as well as Gen Xers like myself looking to stave off the effects of aging.

Lesley Elizabeth’s Spinach Seasoning, which won the Buyers Choice Award – Dry Grocery for its Spinach Seasoning, is representative of the trend toward authenticity and unique flavor profiles Millennials seek to keep their palates entertained. According to the company, its line of seasonings are aimed at the busy consumer who loves great food but lacks the time it takes to source good ingredients.

Not surprisingly, spices and hot sauces, in particular, are all popular among this group of Millennial flavor-seekers. For some, the hotter the better!

Other trends noted by attendees were:

  • Innovation in shake and stir products
  • Bourbon-flavored items (and “booze mixed into products,” said one attendee. 
  • Products with caramel added
  • Nuts, particularly non-flavored nuts.
  • Giftable packaging, such as nice tins
  • Bulk items that deliver more value to consumers.
As much as the wellness trend is driving consumer purchases these days, however, indulgence is still important – though it’s moving toward an occasional treat, versus an everyday thing. The only time I eat cookies, for example, is when I fly on Delta and have the awesome Biscoff cookies they offer – and I often ask for extras.

And suppliers have found a middle ground that is working in this area, by developing snacks that combine both indulgent and healthy ingredients together, giving consumers the ability to have their cake – or chocolate or candy – and eat it too.

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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