When it comes to snack food choices, consumers know what they want and how to buy them. E-commerce packaging for snacks is showing fast growth in the U.S., according to “Snack Foods – Packaging and Processing Market Assessment and Trends 2018,” by PMMI Business Intelligence. 

Another mention in the report is Shelf Ready Packaging (SRP). Benefits of SRP include reduced unpackaging costs, such as labor and inventory management, and the marketing and brand promotion that comes from the graphics displays on cases. 

We spoke with Teri Johnson, divisional manager at tna (tnasolutions.com) to find out which trends are driving snack food production.

Healthy Choices

One of the biggest trends continuing to impact the market is the ongoing consumer demand for healthier snack options. The general health and wellness trend has not only affected ingredient lists, but it has also fueled the demand for smaller bags.

For a lot of consumers, portion control has become the chosen path to reduced weight and a healthier lifestyle, and small single-serve bags are a convenient way to achieve this. At the same time, the rise of single-person households in the U.S. is having a huge impact on the way people shop and consume food.


snack-portioned servings
Columbus Craft Meats has added to its snacking line with Premium Meat and Cheese products in snack-portioned servings.


Portion Control

In particular, millennials prefer single-portion snack foods over traditional sit-down meals as an easier and more convenient way to get the nutrition they need. Small single-serve bags tick all the right boxes. They’re quick, pre-portioned, convenient and don’t require reformulation. As a result, bag sizes have gradually decreased over the years from 1-pound to 4-ounce and 1-ounce bags. In fact, 100-calorie bite-size snack bags are now almost ubiquitous in grocery aisles around the world.

Small pack sizes and single-serve options have become the norm due to the ongoing health and wellness trend and the growing number of smaller households. In addition, a lot of brands are trying to capture the excitement of younger demographics with limited edition packs or in-pack product samples. 

Unique Flavors

Indulgence remains a key motivator when it comes to snacking. More and more consumers are opting for snacks with decadent flavor combinations like chips fried in coconut oil or high-quality snacks that have been produced using premium ingredients such as oak-smoked chilies, black truffle or cider vinegar. For manufacturers, the trend toward indulgence can have a significant impact on the bottom line as it often means purchasing higher volumes of more expensive ingredients and creating more frequent flavor changes that will have an impact on overall production line speeds. 

Increased globalization, advanced communication technology and rising levels of migration mean that consumers across the world have become more curious and adventurous when it comes to snacking — and are more willing to explore foods from other cultures along with their own traditional cuisines.


Resealable packaging makes on-the-go snacking convenient. With the bonus of keeping food fresh longer, it is no surprise zippered stand-up pouches are so popular. In fact, a study by Freedonia Group (freedoniagroup.com) reveals that demand for pouches used in candy and snack food packaging is forecast to increase 3.8 percent annually through 2022 to $3.4 billion. 


resealable 4-oz. pouches
SKIPPY P.B. Fruit Bites are real, bite-sized dried fruit covered in a smooth coating made with SKIPPY peanut butter in resealable 4-oz. pouches.


A reclosable pack also reduces food waste due to the product’s extended shelf life. This also allows for better portion control without the worry of food going bad. Resealable packaging also hits on the single-serve trend, not to mention the optional child-resistant zipper closures.


Just like the rest of the food industry, snack manufacturers are under increasing pressure to ensure their production processes become more sustainable. There is definitely a push from consumers and regulatory bodies around the world to promote more sustainable practices, especially with reference to packaging materials. In fact, there are already quite a few big brands committed to making their packaging materials fully recyclable, and it’s likely that more will follow.

In line with the growing consumer demand for more product transparency, a lot of snack manufacturers have started emphasizing the healthfulness of their products via high-impact messaging on their packaging. This helps shoppers to quickly assess the quality of the item while raising consumer confidence in a brand. Additionally, a lot of brands have started to directly express their sustainable values through simple and environmentally friendly packaging.

tna is a leading global supplier of integrated food processing and packaging solutions with more than 14,000 systems installed across more than 120 countries. The company provides a comprehensive range of products including materials handling, processing, cooling, freezing, coating, distribution, seasoning, weighing, packaging, inserting and labeling, metal detection and verification solutions. tna’s unique combination of innovative technologies, extensive project management experience and 24/7 global support ensures customers achieve faster, more reliable and flexible food products at the lowest cost of ownership.

A Little Food Play

The Kraft Heinz Company is allowing kids to play with their food. The company wanted the packaging to reflect the idea of shared family fun, so it challenged Equator Design (equator-design.com) to develop a packaging format for the new JELL-O Play range. Equator Design articulated JELL-O Play’s “no rules” approach to play on pack while highlighting the valuable, educationally focused play opportunities it provides. 


Jell-O Play products
Equator Design worked with The Kraft Heinz Company on a line of Jell-O Play products combining snack and play for kids.


Kraft Heinz provided the Equator Design team with a preferred format and color scheme for the product range, and the packaging specialist used this direction to develop a look and feel that is cohesive across the range and will “block” well on shelf, adding the signature green masthead across the top of each pack, for example, to help different pack sizes and colorways to deliver consistency on shelf.

“We wanted to develop a cohesive and instantly recognizable range that maximizes familiarity with the JELL-O brand, and all the loyalty and trust tied up with that, while creating impact with color, layout and imagery that brings play into the food aisle. The result is a range of packaging that is a game changer for the category and really pops on shelf, while providing the potential for further additions to the range in the future,” says Nick Coats with Equator Design’s Chicago team.

The Equator Design team worked with the brand from concept design through detailed design, photography and artwork, utilizing the company’s under-one-roof approach to deliver the complete project in-house.