The top category consumers regularly purchase as a treat is snacks, according to a recent report from Cincinnati-based 84.51°.

Specifically, the top treat category holds snacks/candy, drinks (including soft drinks and juice), and produce equally. In the report, available as an e-book titled “The Future: 5 Key Insights Powering Grocery’s Next Era,” 84.51° explained that consumers are just as likely (34%) to purchase produce as a treat as they are to purchase drinks and snacks/candy.

The data is based on an August 2023 survey of consumers who had shopped at Kroger in the last three months.

The second top category consumers regularly purchase for treats is dairy (31%). Deli, meat and seafood make up the third top category at 30%. As for treats that consumers purchase sometimes, the top three categories are fresh bakery (58%), snacks/candy (57%), and frozen food (52%).

84.51°’s report also broke down the survey results by income level to see how regular indulgences differed across three groups. For those with an income under $50K, regular indulgences were ranked snacks/candy (38%), drinks (34%), and produce (32%).

For the group with an income level $50K-$100K, the order shifted to drinks (36%), produce (35%), and snacks/candy (29%). For consumers with an income level over $100K, regular indulgences were ranked snacks/candy (38%), produce (34%), and drinks (31%).

The biggest difference 84.51° noted was in the $50K-$100K group, as snacks/candy were much less popular for them than consumers in the other two income groups.

Another important thing to note from this report is the use of the word “snack” — which is specifically paired with candy and used separately from produce, fresh bakery, dairy and meat departments — while the word “treat” is used to represent the broader snacking category across all grocery departments.

Whether described as a snack or a treat, the point remains: snacking is for everyone, in every perimeter department, and in demand.


Avocado toast to-go

While many consumers — especially younger generations — find themselves snacking throughout the day rather than having three full meals, more food companies are launching products that serve as snack/meal hybrids.

According to the Circana 2023 Snacking Survey, two out of three consumers (up 6% from two years ago) said they snack to fuel the day, and 54% percent of consumers (up 7% from two years ago) said snacks are an important part of their healthy eating plan throughout the day.

Rhome, Texas-based ¡Yo Quiero! recently launched a new snackable breakfast item, Avocado & Egg, made with hard-boiled eggs, Haas avocados, and everything seasoning.

The innovative product reduces the effort required to make avocado toast, so all consumers have to do is pop a slice of bread in the toaster, open up a 2.5-ounce cup of Avocado & Egg, and spread it on top.

“It has become clear to us that there is power behind the goodness of this healthy pairing,” said Jay Alley, co-owner and vice president of ¡Yo Quiero! “These two powerful foods, when teamed up, help build a healthy brain, promote stress-reducing hormones, keep the heart healthy, combat aging, and fight insomnia. So, as innovators in all things avocado, we are bringing this new product to Costco stores in the Southeast region now, with more stores coming on soon.”

Each Avocado & Egg box has seven eggs and six avocados divided into 14 single-serve cups.

“We know that our consumers want ‘real food’ that improves their health and well-being but also want the convenience of food that requires no cooking or prep time,” said Tara Murray, vice president of marketing. “With ¡Yo Quiero!’s Avocado & Egg, you simply ‘just add toast’ to fulfill both a balanced diet and busy lifestyle. We are known for our consistent focus on all-natural and premium ingredients as well as innovating products to make mealtime and snack time delicious and nutritious.”

An apple a day

One top trend identified in Chicago-based Datassential’s annual Foodbytes report for this year is nostalgia.

“As Millennials, Gen X and Boomers longingly look back to a rose-colored past amid continued worries, while Gen Z experiences some of these trends for the first time, brands should dive into the archives for ideas,” Datassential said. “If you have a concept that resonates with nostalgic consumers, challenge yourself to find a way to bring it back in 2024.”

While many companies are formulating fun, innovative products using nostalgic flavors (like peanut butter and jelly, Datassential mentioned), some have also found success in simplicity.

Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak offers a variety of snack packs that stick to classic combinations of things like apple slices, grapes, cheese, sausages, crackers and pretzels.

Across all of Crunch Pak’s brands and product lines, there is a wide range of serving sizes to suit all age groups. For kids, there are smaller packs for an after-school or post-game snack, and there are also larger packs with enough nutrition to be a lunch.

For group occasions such as family game night, Crunch Pak offers CharFruiterie snack packs. The line’s top seller is a 32-ounce pack with the same SKU year-round and rotating seasonal films, making it easy for retailers to merchandise it as something new. It includes apple slices, cheddar and pepper jack cheese, turkey bites, pretzels, and caramel dip. The company also offers a 42-ounce pack year-round with apples, cheese, and grapes, plus a 42-ounce pack with apples, cheese, and caramel May-September.

Another simple, convenient option for families or groups is a bag of pre-sliced apples. Like the Avocado & Egg product from ¡Yo Quiero!, Crunch Pak’s Family Size Apple Slices save consumers a few steps and make fresh, nutritious snacking as easy as opening a bag of chips.

Peeled Apple Slices are available in 12-ounce and 24-ounce bags. The three other varieties are Sweet, Tart and Mixed Apple Slices, and they all come in 14-ounce or 24-ounce bags.

Crunch Pak has also collaborated with San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm to offer a 12-ounce bag of Organic Apple Slices under the Earthbound Farm label.

Chicago-based Kraft Heinz’s Lunchables brand hopped on the produce snack pack trend last year by partnering with Coral Gables, Fla.-based Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc.

Sold in the produce department, the Lunchables with Fresh Fruit pair Fresh Del Monte pineapple, clementines, grapes and apples with Lunchables ham, turkey and crackers.

“We see the partnership to introduce this evolution of Lunchables as a true game changer for children’s nutrition,” said Melissa Mackay, vice president, marketing of Fresh Del Monte. “By bringing together the freshness and quality that Fresh Del Monte fruits are known for with the convenience and fun of Lunchables, we have a real opportunity to change kids’ perspectives around fruits, ideally helping to make fruit consumption second nature to younger generations. It aligns closely with our mission to inspire healthy lifestyles and provide wholesome and convenient products to everyone.”

Lunchables also recently launched Dunkables, which includes Mozza Sticks with Marinara & Breadcrumbs and Pretzel Twists with PB Spread & Choco Chips.

“With nearly 50% of Lunchables consumed as a snack, the debut of Dunkables is the latest example of the brand’s commitment and extension into the snacking category,” Lunchables said. “Looking to move beyond the lunch-time occasion and provide wholesome snacks to bridge between meals, Dunkables is the brand’s second innovation tailored to snack time in 2023.”

The company said a Chicken Popper variety will be added to the new Dunkables line sometime in 2024.

Fruit for the road

Consumers on-the-go will often choose snacks they can hold in the palm of their hand as they run out of the door. A handful of dried fruit is an easy better-for-you snack option for someone in a rush.

Plymouth County, Mass.-based Ocean Spray Cranberries celebrated two new launches last summer with its new Snack Medley line and a partnership with The Hershey Company. 

The Snack Medley dried fruits come in boxes of 5 single-serve 1-ounce pouches. They are available in three different varieties: Cran-Blueberry, Cran-Pineapple and Cran-Mango.

“Our team at Ocean Spray is always looking for ways to bring delicious and nutritious options to families,” said Kelvin Vuong, senior director of brand marketing, USA foods and snacking. “With Snack Medley, we’ve created a perfect combination of flavors that will satisfy cravings needed for busy days.”

Ocean Spray’s collaboration with The Hershey Company brought consumers Milk Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Bites and Dark Chocolate Dipped Cherry Infused Cranberry Bites, for a sweet treat made with real fruit.

“What better way to build our snack portfolio than to partner with Hershey’s, the No. 1 milk chocolate brand in the US, offering our consumers the ultimate snack to evolve the dried fruit category,” said Monisha Dabek, chief commercial officer, USA. “It’s important for us to create products that are made from real fruit, innovating how we feature the cranberry in a variety of flavor combinations for year-round snacking and sweet treats for the whole family.”

Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Packaged Foods also had several new launches in 2023, including Dole Good Crunch.

Described by the company as “sustainably produced dehydrated pineapple and banana bites that pack a crunch and provide nutrition benefits,” Good Crunch is available in Original Pineapple Bites, Chili Pineapple Bites, and Banana Bites.

They are made with no added sugar, so all of the flavor comes from the real fruits and seasoning.

“We gently dehydrate our fruits using a unique multi-step drying process to lock in loads of fresh fruit flavor and preserve fruit nutrients to give you a totally munchable snack,” Dole said.

Another perfect fruit for on-the-go is the cupholder-friendly POM Wonderful Pomegranate Fresh Arils from Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Company.

Wonderful received recognition for the product in Good Housekeeping’s 2023 Best Snack Awards in the Powerhouse Produce category.

“With their deep ruby red color, these California-grown pomegranate arils are bursting with flavor and antioxidants,” Good Housekeeping said. “Don’t worry about messy prep either — enjoy them straight out of the container or sprinkle them on salads, yogurt parfaits, and more.”

For a backseat-friendly on-the-go option, Berkely, Calif.-based Once Upon a Farm formulated Refrigerated Oat Bars — a mess-free substitution for overnight oats.

The bars are made with real fruit, vegetables, 100% whole grain oats, and a drizzle of no-added sugar icing, the company said. The bars will stay fresh outside of the refrigerator up to one week, making them an easy option for everyday or even to pack for a family vacation.

“We’ve spent the last two years testing different bar recipes, getting our no-added sugar drizzle right and understanding the white space where parents and kids’ needs are unmet in the grocery store,” said Cassandra Curtis, Once Upon a Farm’s co-founder and chief innovation officer. “Our new line of Refrigerated Oat Bars is our answer to convenience and leading a healthy lifestyle while maintaining all the nutritious qualities and deliciousness that have made our products so appealing to parents and kids alike. We are beyond excited for everyone to try them!”

The Refrigerated Oat Bars are available in Strawberry, Banana Chocolate and Apple Cinnamon.


Charcuterie for one

St. Louis-based Volpi Foods is a charcuterie brand that understands snackers. The company offers different sizes of slow-aged meat packages to accommodate all snacking habits, from entertainment boards to solo snacks at home or on-the-go.

In the fall, Volpi launched its newest Salami Stix, which the company said are for “commuters, athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, or for a lunchbox.”

Salami Stix come in single-serve 2-ounce pouches with 14 grams of protein and 220 calories in each serving. The two varieties are Original and Spicy.

“Our focus has always been on providing high-quality, all-natural products that use only the best ingredients,” said Lorenza Pasetti, Volpi’s CEO. “Salami Stix are no exception.”

Other great on-the-go snacks from Volpi are the Roltini Singles, available in the following four varieties:

  • Roltini Singles with Mozzarella and Pepperoni
  • Roltini Singles with Mozzarella and Prosciutto
  • Roltini Singles with Mozzarella and Spicy Salame
  • Roltini Singles with Oaxaca and Chorizo

Each individually wrapped Roltini Single has 11 grams of protein and 150 calories.

San Bernadino, Calif.-based Country Archer Provisions also launched new single-serve meat snacks last fall — Rosemary Turkey Mini Sticks and Original Beef Jerky Snack Packs.

“These perfectly portioned protein snacks offer clean-label ingredients for health-conscious consumers seeking irresistibly flavorful, better-for-you snacking options for themselves and their families,” the company said.

The Rosemary Turkey Mini Sticks are all-natural and infused with authentic herbs and spices, including rosemary, basil, thyme, garlic, and onion, Country Archer said.

The Original Beef Jerky Snack Packs contain 100% grass-fed beef with powerful garlic and onion powder seasoning.

“Unlike most of our competitive set, the Country Archer brand is a true meat snack portfolio, offering a wide variety of flavors, proteins, pack formats, and sizes to ensure consumers have healthy, delicious options whenever and wherever they need them,” said Eugene Kang, co-founder and CEO. “Driven by a growing appetite for quality and portable protein, we developed these two products in response to overwhelming consumer demand for an expanded range of our portfolio.”

Country Archer’s other varieties in the individually wrapped Mini Sticks line are Original Grass-Fed Beef and Teriyaki-Style Pork.


Plant-based cheeses

While almost every cheese found in the dairy aisle can be a great snack, there are fewer options for consumers who have a lactose intolerance or follow a plant-based diet.

“Babybel first launched its expansion into the alternative dairy space in 2022, after noticing there was a lack of plant-based snack cheese alternatives that delivered quality taste and texture,” said Chicago-based Bel Brands USA. “In the one year since Babybel Plant-Based launched, it has become the No. 1 new item in sales of all refrigerated vegetarian options, and ranked No. 1 in trial and repeat of all new non-dairy cheese items, with 60% of sales coming from new buyers.”

In 2023, Babybel launched a new Plant-Based White Cheddar Cheese Alternative. Each individual plant-based cheese snack is wrapped in green wax to make it easy for consumers to differentiate between them and the Babybel’s dairy cheeses wrapped in red wax.

“Babybel Plant-Based has seen an overwhelmingly positive response to-date among flexitarian and vegan shoppers,” said Ridhi Barber, senior brand manager at Babybel. “We wanted to continue this momentum and introduce a second dairy-free Babybel snack option in the fan favorite White Cheddar variety.”

Another big innovation in the plant-based cheese space that rolled out last fall is Bellevue, Wash.-based GOOD PLANeT Foods’ line of Olive Oil Cheeses.

“With the launch of our Olive Oil Cheese platform, GOOD PLANeT is reimagining cheese with a heart healthy product that has a phenomenal flavor and a texture that everyone, even dairy eaters, will enjoy.” said Bart Adlam, co-CEO of GOOD PLANeT Foods.

The best products in the new line for snacking are the Olive Oil Cheese Cubes, available in Tuscan Herb Mozzarella, Spicy Monterey Jack, and Sharp Cheddar. They come in 7-ounce plastic cups with a resealable lid for added convenience.


The perfect bite

When it comes to the occasional fresh bakery treats mentioned in the 84.51° report, consumers are looking for small indulgences that can make a regular day just a little bit more fun.

Zurich-based chocolate company The Barry Callebaut Group found in a global survey that consumers also are seeking more natural and authentic ingredients. According to the survey, 69% of consumers are interested in chocolate with healthy ingredients, 74% want snacks that are nutritious and energizing, and 71% want chocolate that supports their mental health.

Milwaukee, Ore.-based Dave’s Killer Bread described its recently launched Organic Snack Bars as “indulgent enough to satisfy any sweet tooth yet still power-packed with quality ingredients, fiber, and nutrition to fuel your day, the Dave’s way.”

The bars come in three varieties:

  • Cocoa Brownie Blitz: a delectable vegan bar packed with organic chocolate chunks and our signature mix of seeds, serving up 16 grams of whole grains and 6 grams of fiber.
  • Trail Mix Crumble: delivers all the flavor of the classic energy boosting fuel of organic chocolate chunks, fruits, almond butter, and seeds while packing 19 grams of whole grains and 5 grams of fiber.
  • Oat-rageous Honey Almond: packs a whopping 22 grams of whole grains and 5 grams of fiber with simple ingredients like organic rolled oats, organic honey, and organic dry roasted almonds.

“To say our fans – our BreadHeads – want more innovation from Dave’s is an understatement, and we heard them loud and clear,” said Jillian Cohn, associate brand manager at Dave’s Killer Bread. “It’s no secret that consumers want healthy snacks that also taste killer. And at Dave’s, we were up to the task. It was so fun to bring our organic whole grain nutrition know-how and sky-high flavor standards to the snack aisle.”

Wexford, Pa.-based Nonni’s Bakery launched bite-sized biscotti, which the company referred to as “biscottini,” last year, and the new product won the title of ‘Best Cookie’ in the 2023 People Magazine Food Awards.

The Nonni’s Limoncello BITES have a layer of icing on the bottom and a small drizzle on top for just the right amount of indulgence, the company said.

“These unbelievably snackable treats are baked with premium quality ingredients, like real lemons, eggs, and butter, and they have no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives,” Nonni’s said. “BITES are the perfect bite-sized snack the whole family will love – either while at home or on-the-go.”

The BITES also come in Chocolate Chip and Dark Chocolate Orange.

Another perfect ‘bite’ of indulgence consumers still love is cake pops.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Cyril’s Foods Company offers thaw-and-sell cake pops under its Creative Pops brand.

They are available in the following flavors:

  • Birthday Cake: A buttery rich birthday cake with bits of sprinkles frosted with white chocolate.
  • Chocolate Bliss: A decadent chocolate cake with a rich ganache and chocolate chips dipped in dark chocolate.
  • Cookies & Cream: A moist chocolate cake with crumbled chocolate cookie bits, dipped in white chocolate and cookie crumbles.
  • Sea Salt Caramel (new): A moist vanilla cake, luscious caramel bits, and decadent dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt and a sprinkle of cocoa nibs.
  • Cookie Dough (new): A sweet buttery vanilla cake with chocolate chips dipped in milk and dark chocolates.

The cake pops are available in 3-pack trays or 4-pack clamshells. The frozen shelf life is 365 days, and the refrigerated shelf life is 10 days. Cyril’s Foods said non-GMO and clean label options are also available. For more information, visit the Creative Pops website here

This article is an excerpt from the January 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Snacks All Around feature and more in the digital edition here.