In the past few years, the rising level of nutritional awareness in consumers has prompted food and snack companies to provide more diverse options. A bevy of grocery store items now contain key phrases to be on the lookout for, including ones that read “no added sugar”, “gluten-free” and “dairy-free” in addition to the standard nutrition label. Expanded choices benefit everyone, as it drives a competitive market for companies to provide people with the best value.

The push for healthy-minded meals has extended into the world of snack foods, with snack companies giving people a greater array of options. Dried fruit, granola bars, protein bars and light crackers or chips (such as kale chips) are just a few examples. We’ve compiled a list of 7 healthy snack trends you should know for summer 2019!


1. Food Companies Offer More Healthy Options

Today’s healthy food choices are more prevalent than ever before, with all sorts of restaurants now serving healthier options. People have grown increasingly knowledgeable of the benefits of eating healthy, and companies are adjusting to this, or outright creating new businesses centered around this fact. As of late 2018, around 30% of food companies offer healthy options.

To satisfy the growing demand for healthful meals, startups like Honeygrow, a fast-casual restaurant founded in Philadelphia in 2012, have seen expansion into other areas of the country. Healthy “fast food” options like Chopt and Dig Inn employ forward-thinking approaches to food production that has garnered considerable success.


2. Cereal & Granola Bars Are at the Top of the Charts

In 2017, a report of the best-selling types of healthy snacks across a ten-year span was detailed by Market Research.Biz. The report projects the popularity of healthy snacks from 2017 – 2027 and arranges them into five distinct segments: Cereal and Granola Bars, Nuts and Seeds Snacks, Meat Snacks, Dried Fruit Snacks, and Trail Mix Snacks. Many of the big food brands like General Mills, Tyson Foods, Nestle, and more offer these tracked items.

According to Market Watch, the report details the snack types that are expected to be biggest during the decade-long time span, citing “[The] Cereal & granola bar segment is expected to dominate the global market in terms of revenue over the forecast period, owing to its portability and taste.” Good news for cereal and granola fans; it’s likely you’ll find new twists on these timeless treats available in the foreseeable future.

One of our favorite brands to watch this summer – This Bar Saves Lives. Boasting light flavors like Wild Blueberry & Pistachio and Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey, the company makes a gluten-free, non-GMO snack bar with less than 200 calories.


3. Gluten-Free Items Reach an All-Time High

Foods that promote gluten-free ingredients continue to gain popularity, reaching all-time sales of $2.34 billion as of 2019. Certain items are claimed to be healthier due to their lack of gluten, but this is only true for people diagnosed with celiac disease, or anyone who experiences gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is a protein found in a number of ingredients including wheat, barley, and rye. These ingredients are used for cooking bread and pasta, among other dishes. For those with celiac disease, gluten should be avoided as it can have an adverse effect on health.

In 2016, the Celiac Disease Foundation reported that celiac disease affects an estimated three million Americans. The gluten-free diet is the only ‘cure’ for treating celiac disease. But three million people can’t be solely responsible for the entire market’s stability, so who else is going gluten-free?

Turns out, plenty of people who are undiagnosed with celiac disease decide to go gluten-free. Avoiding the protein can actually be harmful to those undiagnosed, robbing them of nutrients including fiber, iron, folate, niacin, vitamin B-12, calcium, riboflavin, and zinc.


4. Natural Fruit Snacks Soar

There’s an important distinction to make here. Natural fruit snacks such as dried fruit are different (and healthier) than the fruit snacks we remember enjoying as kids. Whereas the latter are sweet gummies pumped with sugar, the former encompasses a wide variety of real fruits prepared in unique ways.

Natural fruit snacks have seen a jump in popularity thanks to labels promoting their no added sugar presence. These labels may have contributed to the growth of natural fruit snacks, being placed onto packages that state “just fruit,” “contains no monkey business,” and “with no added nonsense.” This blunt honesty appears to strike a chord with people.


5. Fruit Leathers & Bites See Success

In a similar vein to natural fruit snacks, fruit leathers and bites continue to be a big hit in the snack market. Both of the fruit-focused snacks saw sales nearly double from 2017-2018, which bodes well for their presence in 2019. One interesting bit about fruit leathers is that you can create your own! There are plenty of recipes available to help anyone get started, but if cooking isn’t in your wheelhouse, these leathers or bites can be store-bought from brands like Stretch Island Fruit Leather, Barnana and more.

Fans of dried fruit ought to give these snacks a look. They have the chewy, tasty fruit flavor that gummies provide but without the added sugar and preservatives. Corn syrup, honey, or sugar can still be used in the preparation of fruit leathers, but their amount isn’t set in stone. Experiment with the number of sweeteners!


6. Flexitarian Eating

Many people are aware of the distinction between the eating habits of meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. A majority of people fall somewhere in the middle, eating a mix of meat and plants, but the shift toward a different diet is gaining prominence.

Enter the flexitarian diet. It most closely resembles omnivorous eating habits, but leans in the direction of vegetarian-thinking. Flexitarians limit their meat consumption, choosing to enjoy it on a less frequent basis than the average person. There’s no hard and fast rule to how much meat should be consumed, so it’s less a diet and more of a lifestyle choice.

There’s a handful of potential health benefits and environmental gains that come from flexitarian eating. Healthline shares the following principles associated with eating the flexitarian way:

– Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
– Focus on protein from plants instead of animals.
– Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
– Eat the least processed, most natural form of foods.
– Limit added sugar and sweets.


7. Non-Dairy Milk Continues Growth

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reported that 65 percent of the human population has difficulty digesting lactose past infancy. As a result, multiple non-dairy solutions such as almond or oat milk have seen tremendous growth. Market intelligence agency Mintel reported in January 2018 that non-dairy milk has seen a 61 percent growth since 2012.

As of January 2018, Almond milk is the most popular non-dairy solution, taking up about 64 percent of market share. Soy and coconut milk take up 13 and 12 percent respectively. The push for plant-based consumption has found its way into both the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. With 1 in 5 Americans reportedly consuming less dairy due to health reasons, there may be an eventual future where nut-based milk becomes the norm.


Whether you’re looking to shake up a summer diet or just want to see where the snack market is headed, we hope these trends captured your interest! Keep an eye on Corporate Essentials via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram for future stories!

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Judson Kleinman

About Judson Kleinman

As the founder and CEO of Corporate Essentials, Judson set out with every intention of bringing a new meaning to the words "office culture". As leaders in the industry, his company constantly sets the bar by investing in, and improving their product offerings, technology, people and training. 20 years and 1500 clients later, Judson can proudly say that Corporate Essentials continues to positively fuel culture and allow over 150,000 employees to work happy.