SNAXPO 2016 brought 1,500 attendees from around the world to Houston, Tex. on March 19-22 for the annual snack food industry trade show. This year’s conference provided snack food manufacturers the opportunity to explore new and innovative equipment, ingredients, products and services to help them keep up with the consumer trends in the snack market.
In his State of Snacking presentation, Jared Koerten from Euromonitor pointed out that snacking continues to outpace traditional meals in the marketplace as consumers are looking for convenient, on-the-go options that best fit their busy lifestyles. Koerten also mentioned that Euromonitor expects to see continued growth, specifically for savory snacks in the U.S. market.
With the continued growth in snacks, the trade show floor provided a great opportunity for snack food manufacturers to explore new flavors and innovations being offered to help them meet the demands of consumers. The team at McCormick Custom Flavor Solutions presented the 2016 McCormick Flavor Forecast in an education session during the show to highlight on trend flavors, which included flavors that are influenced by Malaysian and Philippine cuisine—specifically ones with heat and tang. In addition, McCormick stated that nutrition persists in the Flavor Forecast in the form of two trends—blends with benefits and alternative pulse proteins.
In addition to the presentations and education sessions, there were a variety of exhibitors that showcased ingredients to meet the demands of consumers—specifically around cleaner labels. Land O’Lakes Ingredients’ team of experts gave a presentation at their booth, The Colors We Eat, which described how FD&C colors have evolved over time and where we are in today’s environment with the consumer demand for natural colors in the foods they eat. In addition to their presentation, Land O’Lakes Ingredients had a taste challenge and invited attendees to sample cheese puffs. One was made with cheese powder that had been formulated with FD&C colors and the other contained a cheese powder made with no FD&C colors. During the challenge, Land O’Lakes Ingredients captured attendee feedback and the results were surprising—attendees had a hard time telling the difference between the two products and actually preferred the taste of the cheese puff formulated without the use of FD&C colors.
Across the trade show floor, DairiConcepts also presented cleaner-label snack seasonings that included product offerings for organic, rBST-Free, non-GMO, gluten-free, reduced sodium and natural colors and flavors. Georgia Pecans showcased how pecans can be used beyond the pie in snack foods as a gluten-free, protein-rich option with their samples of pecan grahams, pecan meat-substitute spring rolls and pecan-coated chicken—which I must say, were all delicious!
Overall, SNAXPO 2016 was a great show. It will be interesting to see what next year’s SNAXPO in Georgia will bring—what new trends will be uncovered and what new and exciting innovations and flavors will be available for snack food manufacturers. Who knows, maybe the Fuch’s blimp that stirred up the trade show floor last year will make an appearance again in 2017. Feel free to comment below on what innovations, trends or flavors caught your attention at this year’s SNAXPO and what you’d like to see at next year’s show.