Favored flavors for snack success

As consumers look for both hunger satisfaction and indulgence, snacks that invoke positive, calming emotions

When Innova asked people what motivates them to snack, hunger and enjoyment were the top two reasons given by 40% of global survey respondents. The next strongest motivator is the craving for a treat or reward. Additionally, six in ten consumers say the biggest driver of their ultimate purchase choice is flavor, more so than price. So it’s easy to see why the snacks category fits Innova’s number eight trend for 2023, Revenge Spending. Small, budget-friendly treats are having a heightened effect – and desirability – as luxury spending comes under pressure.  

To this end, snacks are a perfect conduit for limited editions geared towards one-time impulse purchases. Almost one in four snackers say they enjoy the indulgence of exotic flavors and like to try something they don’t usually have. Taste profiles that cross regions are popular and growing at two to four times the category average. Fish, masala, south Asian and American flavors stand out in this regard. Also watch out for savory combinations that break traditional norms and a growth in flavors of the sea. 

Favored flavors for snack success
Lays Spicy Garlic Shrimp Flavored Potato Chips (Taiwan), Nongshim Shrimp Flavored Cracker (Brazil), Rice Paper Shrimp (US)

Whether targeting hunger, reward or escapism, snack innovation is dominated by vegetable flavors, especially onion. However, recent launches are showing greater variety including truffle, mushroom, seaweed and sweet potato. Taste is a big driver in this regard, along with the perceived health benefits of vegetables, and the emerging flavors have a trendier edge that appeals to adventurous consumers. 

Between 2018 and 2022, the biggest growing flavors in NPD include poultry, meat and fish (+13% CAGR), spices and seeds (+6% but accounting for more than a quarter of launches), and smoked or roasted (+7%). Mesquite and sweet barbecue are driving smoked growth, while chili and spices are appearing in a wide range of formats. And, not forgetting sweeter offerings, brown flavors are growing faster than total snacks, driven by caramel and white chocolate. 

Favored flavors
Iwon Organics Protein Stix: Mesquite Bbq (Canada), Deep River Snacks Mesquite Bbq Flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips (Nicaragua), Linkosuo Makea Ja Savuinen Ruislastu: Sweet And Smoky Bacon Flavored Rye Chips (Finland)

As consumers look for both hunger satisfaction and indulgence, snacks that invoke positive, calming emotions are the ones they will reach for. Innovative snacks that pack a full taste and spark emotion will drive growth. Bold flavors, interesting combinations, and experiences that touch the senses tap into dominant trends driving pleasure-seeking purchases. 

Global Emerging Flavors in Snacks is a Flavor Insider report from Innova Market Insights. It examines emerging flavors in snacks in the global marketplace. Flavor trends and consumer data are quantified and illustrated with examples of the latest innovations driving the category forward. To learn how to access this and other Innova Reports, contact us here. Existing Innova Reports members can access these insights now. 

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