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The salty and savory snack category continues to evolve around the globe. An ever-changing consumer palate is challenging manufacturers to create more daring flavor experiences within the category. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), a resource that tracks new product introductions, more interesting flavors have recently continued to surface in the United States. In the first quarter of 2007, interesting global flavor offerings have included Peking duck and hoisin sauce, Chicago pizza and the first salmon teriyaki flavored chip.
According to Mintel’s “2006 US Salty Snacks” report, close to 40% of respondents said that they often try new flavors. Of the respondents in the 18-24 year old range, close to half of them stated that they often try new flavors, putting them well above all other responses. Flavors that are fueling the innovation fire across the category include bold and spicy, unusual pairings, and healthy options. These flavors are continuing to grab consumer interest and appeal.
In line with the spicy trend, companies are using peppers and Latin flavor combinations as key innovators. Jays Foods has launched a new line of Mexican snack food, designed to appeal to the growing US Mexican population and fans of flavor combinations. The range includes Jalapeno Potato Chips, Hot Stuff Corn Chips, Hot Stuff Cheezlets, and Salsa Verde Pork Skins. Each variety bag displays the colors of the Mexican flag. As the habanero pepper continues its climb across restaurant menus nationwide, it has become a key ingredient in Southwest Specialty Foods’ habanero pepper corn chips. LesserEvil adopts a more Cajun flair for its Krinkle Sticks Cajun KaBoom, a crunchy and all-natural potato snack featuring gourmet Cajun spices.
Unusual flavor pairings have become major draws across restaurant menus, but they also hold strong notation in the salty snack arena. Kettle Foods released their Cheddar Beer Chips under their signature brand. The kosher-certified product combines cheddar with the complement of a malty beer taste, bringing everything into perfect flavor balance. Frito-Lay has also combined the increasingly popular buffalo wing with the potato chip, forming Spicy Buffalo Wings Potato Chips under the Lay’s Stax brand. The trans fat-free product is only available for a limited time.
The savory and salty snack category has not always had the reputation of being particularly healthy, and with a renewed interest in healthy lifestyles the manufacturers are taking the opportunity to create new options for conscious consumers. Globally, beetroot, parsnips, shitake mushrooms and other interesting vegetable-focused products found their way onto grocery shelves. In addition, companies have been working with different oils to provide great flavor without the added fat.