Trends #3: There’s more to snacks than potato crisps

Alternative bases for snacks seem to be growing in popularity in the snacks market.

With the lockdown in the UK easing and the shops opening again, I decided to treat myself to one of my favourite pastimes, a day in London. I knew it would still not be quite the same as the PC (pre COVID) days, but I did anticipate and plan the date with a lot of excitement. I was going to spend my day strolling around Kensington and Knightsbridge. I would start with a bookstore to check out any new cookery books, then move on to Whole Foods for some inspiration, I was also hoping to find this new citrus fruit called Sumo Citrus to try, then lunch in Hyde park and after this maybe a stroll to Harrods’ food hall.

OK, I feel I am losing you now, so I’ll get to the point. I had a look at Whole Foods’ savoury snacks section. There were about 10 shelves with various products. Only 2 had potato crisps and maybe one shelf had corn or rice based snacks. The rest featured snacks with a plethora of other bases. Amongst them were nuts, vegetables, pulses, cereals other than wheat, seaweed even fish skin. Some of them were claiming lower fat, environmentally sustainable, higher protein or lower calories, but all emphasised taste !

Five savoury snack products made with alternative bases like seaweek, fish skin, cheese, pulses
Just a small selection of savoury snacks with alternative bases

Of course with the introduction of new bases, we see new processes. Rather than slicing and frying or sheeting and baking, there is a lot of “popping”, drying, or extruding.
Since the launch of Snack-a-Jacks (early naughties in the UK), probably the first alternative base and technology in a long time and with a healthier message, we have seen the rise of popcorn, the slow but consistent growth of other popped products and more recently the introduction of pulses and vegetables. Sourdough is also one to watch, but we’ll talk about sourdough another day.

So, is it the end of the potato crisp ? I don’t think so. The flavour and texture sensation that you get from crisps is well engrained into our memory banks. Plus potato is a genuinely great base for flavours, both when we are cooking and when we are snacking and let’s not forget the economics of it.
If however, the question was “So, is the diversity that we are seeing in snack bases now, going to continue?” then I believe that the answer is a definite YES!
In other words, this is a developer’s dream situation. A market that ready to break with tradition, a consumer that wants to experiment and endless ingredient options.

If however, the question was “So, is the diversity that we are seeing in snack bases now, going to continue?” then I believe that the answer is a definite YES!

NB. If you have been watching any of the cookery programmes, you are bound to have noticed the introduction of crispy fish skin to add texture and interest to a dish. A great shortcut, and I am not suggesting that you take shortcuts, is Seachips. They are also great with a cold beer.

#foodtrends #innovation #productdevelopment #alternativesnacks

Published by Valia Christidou

I have worked with, enjoyed, created and loved food all my life.

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