When it comes to consumer trends, particularly in the baking and snack sector, five tendencies tend to rise to the top as the most frequently mentioned when surveying the buying public. Results from “Snack Foods – Packaging and Processing Market Assessment and Trends,” a report from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, fell directly in line with the consensus listing a top five of healthy, single-serve, flavor variety, resealability and combination snacks.

All five trends also appear to spur from the growth of millennials as a legitimate buying force, with an estimated 73 million millennials in the United States now between the age of 18 and 34. This group is now working and spending money, representing 40% of the U.S. workforce in 2019.

Consistently emerging as the top consumer want, healthy options are growing significantly with the global healthy snack market surpassing $21 billion for the first time in 2016. Commonly tagged as “better-for-you” snacks, the segment is expected to continue to grow at a CAGR of 5.1% well into the next decade. By 2025 nuts/seed and fruit snacks project to represent more than one-fourth of the bakery and snack market. From a production and packaging standpoint, this is creating a need among C.P.G. companies for entirely new production lines dedicated to healthy snacks. This is necessary to ensure gluten-free and allergen-free products. 

Like the better-for-you trend, young consumer lifestyles are driving the single-serve movement. Millennials want reduced portion snacks for on-the-go consumption at lower calorie counts. Retailers now are asking for smaller packages as it allows them to stack more on the shelf, but also allows them to reclaim some shelf space by exploiting the single-serve trend.

The expansion in package sizes creates more operational challenges for C.P.G.s who now face more stock-keeping units than ever before. This explosion of s.k.u.s also is enhanced by the growing need for consumers to have unique snacking desires satisfied. C.P.G.s are forced to find ways to package an ever-changing amount of sizes and flavors, particularly in the savory snack market where tastes span the widest.

Resealability, while running somewhat counter to the single-serve trend at first glance, continues to expand the possibilities of on-the-go snacking. Combination snacks, for example, can offer meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, etc. in containers that can be closed and finished at a different time without spoilage.

All of these consumer trends point to equipment investment as a necessity for C.P.G.s in the next two to three years. Machinery needs to offer flexibility, increased speeds and some level of modularity to allow baking and snack purveyors the opportunity to run different products with little downtime.

According to PMMI’s study, original equipment manufacturers are aware of the pressures facing baking and snack C.P.G.s and are incorporating innovations into their machinery to meet these consumer trends. No event will gather more potential solutions under one roof than Pack Expo Las Vegas, being held Sept. 23-25. The event will bring together more than 30,000 attendees, including 5,000 international visitors from more than 125 countries, and 2,000-plus exhibiting companies spanning nearly 900,000 square feet of exhibit floor.

The Snack Break Lounge, sponsored by SNAC International, will serve as the meeting point for the baking and snack industry. The lounge will provide a dedicated area for meetings and networking with baking and snack peers and industry experts. Attendees looking for award-winning packaging solutions already employed in the marketplace should visit the Showcase of Packaging Innovations, sponsored by Dow as well as the Containers and Materials Pavilion, located in the Lower South Hall.

Registration is $30 through Aug. 30, after which the price increases to $100. For more information and to register online, visit www.packexpolasvegas.com.