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With consumers back on-the-go more than ever after the relative quiet of COVID, many are choosing to forgo a sit-down meal and instead opt for snacking throughout the day, resulting in a global shift toward an expanding snacking culture.

Growing at an annual rate of 5.8%, the global healthy snack market is forecasted to reach $98bn by 2025, according to Glanbia Nutritionals’ State of the Healthy Snack Market.

However, despite the increased interest, modern-day snacking isn’t the same as it once was – people are no longer as inclined to settle for a bag of highly-processed chips and a sugar-laden soda.  

Instead, they are increasingly seeking out highly functional, nutrient-dense snacks that will do more than just fulfil a craving.

Plant-based snack formulations with boosted functionality, especially, are trending among today’s consumers and the Nutrition Business Journal puts US functional food and drink sales at $83bn in 2022, up 6.8% from the previous year.

Functional and flavourful

Although overall interest in immunity was greatly boosted by the pandemic, functional snacking has been steadily gaining traction over the past decade, added McClellan.

Results from a global survey by IFT in 2020 found that 42% of consumers bought more functional foods last year, evident of the crossroads between consumers’ increased snacking habits and their quest for health.

To meet this global interest in functional snacking, formulators must innovate with ingredients that satisfy both taste and health standards.

Incorporating nutrient-dense ingredients not only provides added health benefits – from gut health to alleviating the risk of diseases and even boosting mental wellbeing – but also allows consumers to utilise the benefits within the final product claims. Recognisable ingredients like almonds, chia seeds and soy boast a broad range of health benefits without interfering with flavour or taste.