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The Rise & Rise of the Snack Market: A Focus on Legumes

By Alexandra Locke

The Australian snacking market is worth more than $2 billion, with an annual growth rate of 4% and climbing (1). New technology and continuing consumer demand for healthy alternatives is fuelling innovation in the snacking arena. We take a look at the latest trends on snacks featuring legumes, the most innovative products in this space and where the opportunities lie for manufacturers to produce healthier snacks for our changing lifestyles.

Australians now snack four times as much as 10 years ago (2), with this growth being driven by our ever-changing and increasingly busy lifestyles. And it’s the younger generation driving the trend in snacking, where consumers are shying away from traditional mealtimes and instead consuming more small snacks throughout the day.

Consuming food on-the-go is no longer seen as an anomaly, but a necessity with 96% of Australians regularly consuming snack foods (3). Snacking allows us to fuel ourselves in a way that fits in with our modern, fragmented lifestyles and consumers are increasingly demanding healthier, more innovative options. And this is where the unlikely legume fits in.

Although previously an often overlooked food group, the popularity of legumes continues to grow in all food sectors, helped along by their exemplary health benefits. With 40% of Australians citing that one of their top health priorities is to consume more fresh fruit and vegetables and 23% looking to eat healthier snacks (4), it seems only natural that snacking and legumes have combined to take advantage of this niche.

“Snacking is no longer about a specific product category but rather about a set of behaviours – a way of eating and drinking – a kind of occasion. In other words, anything and everything can be a snack – and increasingly is.” 
Food & Drink News

With 2016 being the International Year of the Pulse, it’s fitting that this year has seen an increase in legume based snacks. And there are many benefits associated with eating legumes; they’re an economical source of plant-based protein, inexpensive, a good source of fibre which helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer and they’re great for the environment too as they help to promote soil health.

With this push for new snack products, innovation is increasing on a daily basis – lentils are being puffed, chickpeas are being roasted, salted and served as a snack and lupins are being ground into flour. In fact, the number of new snacks containing legumes launched around the world increased by an astounding 54% between 2014 and 2015 (5)

We’ve taken a look at some of the top products emerging in legume based snacking.

• Partner Foods has developed a range of roasted legumes including roasted and seasoned chickpeas and fava beans, Chic Nuts and Fav-va Nuts, which come in small portion controlled packs, providing a healthy snack at any time of the day.

• Taking the Pea is another example of a company cashing in on the savoury snack trend with their range of crunchy flavoured peas, promoting their high fibre and protein content to young consumers.

• Simple is the new natural and it doesn’t come much more simple than The Good Beans’ roasted, seasoned chickpeas.

• Luke’s Organic range of corn chips includes a red lentil variety – a great way of getting plant-protein into the diets of those who may otherwise overlook the humble legume.

• One of the more innovative products comes from Chaat Co who have produced a savoury yoghurt based snack topped with lentil puffs.

• Many café’s and restaurants are now using chickpea flour to create gluten free snack products and pea protein to up the protein content of their bite-size snacks.

• And there’s an increasing number of manufacturers using legume flours in their snack products, including chickpea and lupin flour – Good Thins snacks are made with chickpea flour.

As the snacking category continues to grow in both definition and financial growth, there are multiple opportunities to be had for manufacturers. Discerning consumers are looking for a number of attributes with their snacking choices…

• Nutrient dense
• Small, individual serving sizes
• Rapid hand-to-mouth format
• Fresh ingredients
• An emphasis on less processed ingredients
• Plant protein based
• Most importantly, consumers want new and different products!

And there are plenty of options for product growth, with companies competing in this growing market by adapting existing lines with new ingredients, such as new varieties of puffed legumes and products made with lentil or lupin flours. As well as new innovation, such as savoury yoghurt with bean puffs or high protein smoothies made with chickpeas.

One thing’s for sure, anything goes and the market is wide open for new products and innovation.

To make your own legume based snacks, visit the GLNC website for a range of delicious recipes.

References
1. IBIS World. AU Snack Food Manufacturing. 2015
2. Australian Food News. Australian’s Snacking Ten Times as Much as Ten Years Ago. 2015
3  Australian Food News. Australia’s Snacking Habits Revealed. 2014
4. IPSOS, Food Chats. 2016
5. Innova Market Insights. Pulses are Still on Beat. IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo 2016.

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