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Of Crave Concern.

Byline: Lynn Petrak

Snacks, appetizers reflect consumers' changing habits.

Almost everyone -- 94 percent of us, anyway -- snack at least once a day. That's according to data from Chicago-based market researcher Mintel, which also showed that half of adults snack two to three times a day.

Meanwhile, the average number of snacks consumed daily in the United States is 2.7, and 46 percent of consumers snack three times a day, according to an April 2016 report by Chicago-based IRI.

Under the increasingly broad umbrella of snacking, frozen snacks and appetizers are projected to grow through 2020, according to a 2016 report from Mintel on frozen snacks. "Emerging restaurant brands, as well as brands from other snack categories and, indeed, fresher foods, begin to leverage their attributes in frozen cases," observes William Roberts Jr., senior food and drink analyst at Mintel. "At the same time, consumers believe frozen snacks, while suitable as a convenient indulgence, could be healthier and less artificial."

Frozen appetizers and snacks rang up nearly $2 billion in sales in the year ending Dec. 25, 2016, according to Chicago-based IRI. That was a slight dip, by 0.74 percent, from the previous year, but within the category, sales of such brands as Pagoda, Chungs and Hot Pockets increased.

As with the rest of the frozen food sector, sales of natural, organic and specialty frozen snacks and appetizers are also edging up. SPINS, a Chicago-based research firm that tracks the natural, organic and specialty product industry, reports that sales of frozen appetizers and snacks in that arena edged up 0.4 percent from 2015 to 2016, topping $4.56 billion.

Underscoring the collective craving for snacks among American consumers, several new frozen appetizers and snacks are filling today's grocery freezers. The iconic Velveeta brand, from Pittsburgh-based Kraft Heinz Co., recently introduced Stuffed Grilled Cheese and Cheesy Bites. Another iconic brand extension: a line of Doritos Loaded frozen nacho snacks, launched last December by Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay.

Consumers looking for cleaner labels and natural ingredients can also find more options in frozen snacks and appetizers. Schwan Food Co., in Marshall, Minn., revamped its branded food portfolio to focus on simplifying ingredient labels and sourcing real ingredients. "As of September 2016, Pagoda Potstickers now contain 60 percent less sodium, a bold new Lime Ponzu sauce, and a reformulated dough optimized for an authentic steamed experience from the microwave," notes Stacey Fowler Meittunen, SVP of product innovation and development, adding that flavor is also key among today's consumers. The brand team will introduce two additional Pagoda wonton flavors, Honey Sesame Chicken and Korean BBQ Style Beef, this month.

On the sweet side of snacking, new products include Donut Holes in Cinnamon Sugar and Chocolate with Vanilla Glaze varieties, both from St. Simons Island, Ga.-based Farm Rich.

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Author:Petrak, Lynn
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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