Embracing the Latest UK Snack Market Trends: Consumer Demands Unveiled

UK Snack Market Trends

Consumers have given food and drink brands a clear message that a better balance between healthier and tasty snacks is needed. The demand for healthier living isn't going away any time soon. Health and wellness food market is expected to see a growth rate of 5.7% between now and 2024. Supporting and even adapting to changing lifestyles, the UK snack market trends have never been as tasty, diverse or as hot as they are right now. As the boundaries between snacking and traditional meal times blur, how do you understand what it is that's really driving the changes in snacking habits? From impulse protein snacking and gut health drinks, to innovative low sugar alternatives and plant based treats, the snacking landscape is set to be dominated by several core trends.

What's Changing In UK Snack Market Trends?

The food and drink industry has seen a wave of innovation in the last few years, with the snacking sector being no exception. When it comes to UK eating habits, 'healthy eating' has been a key focus, bringing a plethora of new and innovative products to the snacking scene. 66% of snackers eat between meals at least once a day, demonstrating how ingrained snacks are in our diets.

Time poor modern lifestyles are one core factor fuelling our reliance on snacks, being better educated and aware of what we're putting in to our bodies is another. Above all else, the drive towards healthier living trend has made it more important then ever to offer the right blend of on trend of products to reflect the core trends.

We're expecting to see a sustained growth from brands which tap in to several of hottest trends. Innovative brands will continue to find exciting new solutions and Epicurium as ever, will be sourcing and offering those ranges to help any retailer or business become a go to destination. The trends for healthier lifestyles, meat reduction, and a demand for 'free-from' will continue to prevail. A greater awareness of 'farm to packet' with proud provenance and eco-credentials, a growth in adventurous flavours and innovative twists on traditional favourites will be important in 2021.

Of course with the current pandemic, consumers all around the world have needed to adjust to the new normal, many of us have adapted the way we shop and our eating patterns. For some, this means experimenting; with new formats, home cooking, exotic ingredients and sustainable practices. For others, this has resulted in an increase in online shopping, bulk buying and utilising their local convenience retailer more frequently (or in some instances, for the first time).

The snacking industry is full of innovation to compliment our changes in lifestyle. Consumers are becoming increasingly demanding, with snack brands changing their offering in a truly exciting way. Supporting and even adapting to changing lifestyles, the UK snack arena has never been as tasty, diverse or as on trend. Take a closer look below...

#1 Protein Snacks Getting Stronger

Protein based snacks have become a regular staple for a large chunk of consumers; not just gym goers but students, busy commuters and casual snackers. Brands are actively calling out protein content on front panels more often, and in some cases position their entire branding around it. Consumers have become aware of the importance of protein for health, nutrition and well being. The continued assumption that protein equals healthy continues. We’ve seen some great innovative formats in 2020 including ready to drink protein shakes, protein waters, mini vegan protein bars and ‘meat-like’ plant based alternatives.

#2 Plant Based Snacking is the Mainstream

Vegan snacking is probably the hottest trend in snacking right now. Increasingly we’re seeing consumers select products based on aspirational goals, as well as dietary choices – many are limiting their general meat and dairy consumption, picking up the ‘flexitarian’ tag along the way. As people become more conscious about the sourcing of foods, plant-based proteins will likely gain more momentum in the coming years. Overall consumers have been encouraged to eat less meat and businesses - from food producers, fast food restaurants and corporate offices are responding. Initiatives such as ‘Meat Free Mondays’ or campaigns such as Veganuary (set to see over 500,000 take the vegan pledge in 2021) - both enjoying record numbers and coverage in the last 12 months

#3 Less is More

Energy sports  drinks exploded on to the scene two decades ago and has since become a mainstay everyday product for many consumers in the UK. As consumers increasingly look for quick ways to reduce their daily sugar intake, innovative brands have taken the lead, replacing refined sugars with natural alternatives in energy drinks – making them a great choice for a range a wider audience. The notion of 'clean energy' - not packed with synthetic ingredients and sugar like traditional energy drinks - is a term set to lead innovation in the drinks category. Low and no alcohol is also riding on a wave of shifting cultural behaviours where not consuming alcohol isn't seen as going against the norm.

#4 Perceptions Change to Snack Packaging

A trend that is rapidly gathering pace. In fact, HIM asked shoppers to rank 8 sustainability issues by importance, and reducing plastic use was ranked as the number #1 problem shoppers think companies should focus on solving first. We are in the middle of a packaging revolution. The big moment arguably came with Blue Planet II with 88% of people who watched changed their lifestyle. It's almost a prerequisite that brands must be taking steps to make their packaging more sustainable. The heightened focus on single-use plastics is no longer just a trend relegated to certain fringe groups, but a reality that goes beyond the purge of plastic straws. Eco-packaging will only become more noticeable with the rise of plastic free innovations.

#5 Indulgent Mini Splurges

Sometimes known as better for you indulgence or permissive indulgence, either way, when it comes to snacking, healthier indulgence can seem like the ultimate contradiction in terms. But now a new wave of brands are setting out to prove that customers can have their cake (or rather their snack bars and bites!) and eat it too. Snacks can hit both the health and indulgence marks, as long as they’re brimming with premium, honest and more natural ingredients for the the big night in and permissive treat moments. But don't forget the more conscious consumer who’s willing to treat themselves but only with those better for you, alternative swaps.

#6 Wellness & Gut Health Matters

Health and wellbeing are more prevalent than ever given the current covid-19 situation. Born from people’s desires to eat healthier, be more aware of the foods they are putting in their bodies and understanding the multiple health benefits that come from making nourishing snacking choices. Through a focus on functional foods, wellness-focused brands are making it easier to get consumers looking after their mental and physical health. The rise and evolution of wellness-focused snack diets such as paleo, keto and high fibre have shown consumers is a clear signs consumers are wanting to look after themselves. Health conscious consumers looking for something that fits their lifestyle better than a bowl of cereal or plate of scrambled eggs. Kombucha, probiotics, more exotic flavours of the world, cannabidiol, nootropics and kefir recipes are set to increasingly feature in brand claims in 2021. Watch this space...

We work with thousands of independent business owners, retailers, buyers and outlets just like you. With years of experience in snacking, we're able to work with our customers to understand their specific needs, matching them with innovative and cool new brands. By building a detailed knowledge of the hottest consumer trends, we offer purchasing advice to help you become a destination for the adventurous, higher spending consumer. Let us help you stay on top of the latest snacks trends.

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