In Thousand Oaks, James Lacey, a California-based business leader and entrepreneur built a snack food giant. As an expert in the consumer packaged goods industry, Jim has studied industry trends for many years. He has worked closely with several nutritional and snack food companies over his long career, and Jim Lacey knows that prevailing consumer trends can shape the direction of the industry at large.
Industry experts predict that by 2020, the global snack food industry will exceed $630 billion in sales. One of the most interesting trends seen in recent years comes directly from consumer demand. Snack food consumers have been seeking more healthy choices, such as products with added protein, so-called “superfood” ingredients, organically-derived ingredients, and snacks free of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Smart consumer products companies have responded to these consumer demands, resulting in healthier products and increased sales. There has been an explosion in healthy snack food products on store shelves; in just a few short years, hundreds of new products have been brought to market.
Another trend is based on consumer habits. Grazing, or replacing traditional meals with smaller, on-the-go foods, has taken the industry by storm over the past five years. Grazing has given rise to several smaller snack food distribution outfits, some of which have grown exponentially. Disruptive innovation by these smaller companies has shaken up many of the bigger players, who are only now playing catch-up to regain market share in the snack food category. Eating snacks to replace meals has also been influenced by the healthy foods trend; with so many preservative-free and nutritionally-enhanced products on the current market, consumers have more choice than ever.
Regional trends are also important to keep track of. European countries represent the largest snack food market in the world, while Asian-Pacific countries like China, India, Japan, and others are the fastest-growing global snack foods market. Mobile lifestyles, the pressures of long workweeks, and growing affluence are some of the factors that have pushed snack foods to the forefront of consumer purchasing habits worldwide. It is a great time to be part of the industry, with sales records being broken on a seemingly weekly basis. New products, increasing demands, and innovative thinking will continue to shape the future of this constantly-growing consumer packaged goods industry.