This post is sponsored by Sonoco.
Rising consumer demand for healthy, fresh food options coupled with the continued growth of snacking occasions is driving sales of fruit and vegetable snacks. While whole fruits and vegetables are nutritious, offerings that add value by minimizing prep work, extending shelf life or adding flavor are gaining popularity with busy consumers. Packaging is a key component of these value-added offerings, since a properly designed package maximmizes portability, maintains freshness and can make products stand out on the shelf. Here’s a look at some of the factors creating opportunities in the fresh snack space, and how the right packaging can set up brands and retailers for success.
Fresh is the order of the day
Consumer interest in healthy snacking is on the rise, and fruits and vegetables are a popular way to eat on the go while still prioritizing nutrition. In fact, “snackable” fruits and vegetables such as grapes, mandarins, apples and baby carrots saw sales of $16.3 billion in the year ending May 27, 2017, according to Nielsen.
And while fruit and vegetable snacks are available in many sections of the store — including frozen and dried, canned or other shelf-stable versions in the center aisles — fresh items have the best reputation among consumers. In a Mintel survey, 97% of shoppers said they buy some type of fresh vegetable and consider them worth paying more for. Many of these fruit and vegetable purchases are likely being consumed as snacks, as 31% of consumers said they snack on fresh fruits and vegetables three to four times per week, and 51% of consumers said they eat fruit and vegetable snacks five or more times per week, according to a recent survey by packaging company Sonoco.
Convenience, curated tastes add value
When consumers are shopping for fruit and vegetable snacks, whole fruits such as bananas and apples are old standbys, but consumers are also reaching for value-added offerings that are a perfect fit for on-the-go lifestyles. Sales of snacks that incorporate both health and convenience, such as mandarins, are on the rise, according to a recent Nielsen study.
In addition to offering convenience and portability with packages of pre-cut fruits and vegetables, brands and retailers can also use packaged produce snacks to fulfil consumers’ desire for interesting flavor profiles. Packages with assorted fresh items, or those that include dips, can offer shoppers exciting choices beyond plain fruits or vegetables. Retailers sold $117 million in mixed fruit for the year ending May 27, 2017, according to Nielsen, and sales of mixed fruit items that were paired with at least one other component — such as cheese, nuts or dip — were close behind.
Packaging prolongs freshness, maximizes portability
In order to offer the best fresh snack options that meet consumer’s need for convenience, nutrition and freshness, food brands and retailers must pay attention to packaging. Packaging plays an important role in the success of fresh snacks because it offers physical protection to prevent damage, prolongs freshness and helps with portion control, according to a white paper on fresh snacking published by Sonoco.
In a recent study, Sonoco found that 43% of consumers snack on fruits and vegetables when they are on the go, and 64% said they eat them away from home. Secure, single-serve containers offer portability and can be eaten anywhere, without the need to wash or cut produce. Sonoco offers a range of options for fresh snack packaging, including 4-pak containers, top seal lidded containers and Primpak single-serve containers.
In addition to convenience and freshness, the right packaging also acts as a marketing tool. Fifty-two percent of consumers say that labels and packaging influence their snack decision-making, according to the 2017 State of the Snack Food Industry report from Information Resources, Inc., which also stated that one of the best ways to capitalize on the growth of healthy and fresh snacking is to “ensure innovative packaging (source and design) are part of your portfolio.”
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