LONDON: Growing demand for healthy snacking products has been identified across six major European markets in a new study that suggests the profile of the typical European consumer is changing.

According to market insights firm IRI, health and wellbeing is increasingly important for European shoppers, whose busy lifestyles are driving demand for on-the-go snacks, including individually portioned fruit, nuts, popcorn as well as baked and vegetable crisps.

Although salty snacks have also grown in popularity, IRI said its analysis of six markets – the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands – showed that consumers are opting for healthier or lighter products as their snack of choice.

Accordingly, snacks have become a key driver of the ambient foods category, which IRI valued at €96bn across these six key markets in 2017, representing average growth of 1.4%.

Growth was strongest in Germany and the Netherlands, with ambient food sales up 2.3% year-on-year in both countries. Overall, the ambient category was second only to the chilled and fresh category (€102.9bn), which itself recorded 4% growth.

It also appears that demand for healthier options is extending to beverages with bottled mineral water volumes now growing ahead of colas across all countries.

IRI found bottled mineral water sales grew 3.3% year-on-year in the markets it surveyed and said a 3.4% decline in fizzy drink sales could be attributed to concerns about high sugar content linked to obesity and diseases like diabetes.

Commenting on the consumer trend, Olly Abotorabi, senior regional insights manager at IRI, said: “Our analysis of the bestselling macro categories in 2017 throws up some interesting developments in terms of the changing profile of the typical European shopper.

“Quick and easy access to food and drink choices is becoming more important, so manufacturers and retailers will need to maximise opportunities here.

“Portability and re-sealable packaging, for example, are increasingly valuable assets in delivering convenience for the on-the-go consumer.

“But they will need to balance this with demand for healthier options, as sugary snacks become less attractive to shoppers, and offer alternatives more suited to guilt-free grazing, such as nuts and seeds, fruit and popcorn.”

Sourced from IRI; additional content by WARC staff