Four out of 10 consumers now claim to be looking for a healthier product all or most of the time when choosing a snack, according to Mintel data, while a similar number say they expect to pay a premium for healthier snacks. This is all brilliant news for forecourts which can cash in on this growing demand.

"Confectionery, crisps and soft drinks still have their place in the shopping basket but the general trend towards healthier lifestyles coupled with a dramatic shift in purchasing habits now means that consumers especially millennials and ’Generation Z’ are leading the charge for change," says Debbie King, director of commercial sales and marketing at healthier snacking brand Eat Real. "Time poor, more informed and better travelled than previous generations, they tend to be more ’snack curious’ and opt for more natural snacks with more diverse flavours and obvious health benefits and they’re not the only ones. On-the-go snackers are also increasingly more likely to make healthier choices when refuelling.

"With far less importance on the traditional three meals a day model, changes in taste and lifestyle are heavily influencing how we shop and although our tastes are diversifying, the demand for healthier snacks is as strong as ever 41% of shoppers are looking for snacks with less sugar and 39% seek out snacks that are low in fat. Our snacks meet all those demands while also delivering big time on flavour, texture and ingredients."

Eat Real snacks can now be found in BP, Shell, Applegreen, Texaco, Esso, Murco and Rontec sites. The range includes Hummus, Lentil and Quinoa Chips, Quinoa Puffs and Veggie Straws. All are free from all 14 major allergens and artificial ingredients, and are suitable for vegan, kosher and halal diets. The Hummus Chips, Lentil Chips and Veggie Straws also contain up to 40% less fat than traditional potato crisps, with some varieties also containing no added sugar.

Non-potato snacks

There is definitely a trend towards non-potato snacks. The Yushoi brand is a case in point. These are oven-baked pea snaps, which are a source of protein, high in fibre and have 90 calories or less per serving. According to Kantar data, over 1.8 million households now purchase Yushoi and the brand is worth £6.7m.

Jon Wood, commercial director of Calbee UK, says: "With consumers becoming more health conscious, it’s important retailers stock a range of options. Yushoi’s baked pea snaps cater to this perfectly with naturally healthy ingredients and added nutritional value."

The Yushoi range is available in a variety of flavours including Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar, Sweet Chilli with Lemon, Lightly Sea Salted and Sour Cream & Chive. New packaging was launched in the summer to make the products more eye catching and colourful with a premium look and feel to provide stand-out on-shelf.

Meanwhile, a new snack that was launched at the IFE show earlier this year is Guruji, a four-strong range of popped lotus seeds. Co-founder of Guruji Akhil Kumar, explains: "I have Northern Indian heritage and grew up eating the seeds and knowing about their notable health credentials. They were also the perfect replacement to snacking on nuts due to my allergies. With Guruji, we have taken all the health properties of the seeds and made them exciting for a Western audience, by layering them with punchy gourmet flavours specifically designed for this market."

Those ’punchy’ flavours are: Smoky Thai, Cheesy Vegan, Lightly Salted and Salt & Cacao. They come in 17g bags that retail for between £1.30 and £1.60.

Lotus seeds are a good source of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and are completely natural. They are harvested in a sustainable manner as they grow in naturally occurring ponds and Guruji keeps the manufacturing process to a minimum.

Co-founder Benjamin Shashou says the brand’s target audience is those people who are trying to eat more healthily, especially when snacking, as well as those who are vegans or have allergies as the product is free from all 14 of the major allergens. "Consumers from all over are increasingly understanding that what you eat directly affects your health, especially in later life, so we are seeing a big push to more natural products. We only have four products; four different flavours of popped lotus seeds, and we think forecourts should stock all of them," explains Shashou.

For those looking for a sweet yet healthy snack, there are Perkier Bites and Bars.

Ann Perkins, director of Perkier, says the range taps into the healthy indulgence trend: "Perkier are leveraging both leading edge nutrition and utilising a unique technology, to create deliciously moreish snacks, perfect for the grab-and-go convenience shopper.

Perkier snacks also have outstanding free-from credentials, attracting many more consumers who can often be left with no snacking options in a forecourt."

The Bites and bars are 100% plant based; gluten, wheat and dairy free; suitable for vegetarians and vegans; and contain no palm oil. However they are high in protein and fibre.

Perkier Bites come in three flavours: Cacao & Peanut; Cacao & Orange; and Salted Caramel; plus there are two bars: Cacao & Salted Caramel and Cacao & Orange.

Better for you

Another sweet, better-for-you brand is Trek with its range of protein flapjacks, energy bars and protein nut bars which contain 9-10g of protein. All Trek bars are gluten-free and vegan, plus they are made with natural ingredients. The sales of Trek’s Protein Flapjacks are growing by 6.8%, with 46 sold every minute (IRI data), making them a must-stock for forecourts.

"With more and more products entering this increasingly crowded market, it is more important than ever for brands to help consumers navigate the category, says Paul Samways, trade marketing manager at Natural Balance Foods.

In response to this Trek has recently rolled out a range-wide rebrand with new eye-catching packaging, which research found makes the bars quicker for shoppers to find on shelf.

The new-look bars feature a triangle emblem, indicating the key benefits of each bar.

"To maximise the opportunity healthy snacking presents, forecourt operators should consider offering snacks as part of in-store meal deals and offers," suggests Samways.

"There is a common misconception that shoppers are only looking for the generic three- item meal deal. However, as the latest Healthy Snacking Report from Him shows, alternative two- item deals, such as combining a snack with a hot drink, would also entice shoppers.

"Forecourt operators are advised to display flapjacks and protein bars next to hot drinks or in the food-to-go aisles to encourage impulse purchases alongside products from different categories."

Dairy delivers a healthy snack

Consumers are becoming more mindful of the quality of calories, which means that naturally nutritious, protein-rich snacking products such as dairy-based snacks have become increasingly popular with shoppers. So says Anca Lazar, senior brand manager of Cathedral City Snacking at Saputo Dairy UK.
"A naturally nutrient-dense product, rich in calcium and a good source of quality protein, cheese is perfectly placed to drive consumption at these snacking occasions and offers a credible alternative to more traditional sweet and savoury snacks. Furthermore, snacking on cheese is already an ingrained consumer habit with 45% of adults claiming to snack on cheese at least once a week (Mintel 2018)."
According to IRI/Kantar data, the adult cheese snack sector is now worth £33.9m, having grown by 11.5% in the past year, and is doing even better in the convenience channel, where sales were up 16.2%. Saputo believes that the adult cheese snack sector represents an underexploited opportunity for forecourt retailers looking to cash in on the healthier snacking market with volume lagging behind the wider market and distribution of adult cheese snacking lines remaining low.
Saputo’s Cathedral City adult snacking portfolio includes a number of top-performing adult cheese snacking lines, including the Cathedral City Snack Bar. This 24g cheese bar continues to go from strength to strength, with value sales growing by 84% in the latest year in total convenience and it is the second- highest selling single- serve adult cheese snack in the channel.

Retailer view Rachael Hockmeyer, Hockmeyer Motors:

"We have two metres of healthier snacks on the right as you head for the till. Shoppers will see these before they get to the chocolate countlines so will hopefully make a healthier choice.
"Nature Valley, Grenade and Kind bars all sell well but anything that’s on promotion always sells the best.
"People are making a choice to eat more healthily. We sell lots more salad pots and pots of fruit than we’ve ever done before. But things like the reduced sugar Cadbury Dairy Milk bar are not selling."