We’re a snacking nation, no doubt about it. We’re amazingly active—“busy” is really the way I’d put it. We want convenience. And we don’t want to skip a beat to eat.

So it’s no surprise that The Hartman Group notes that half of all eating occasions these days are snacks (see “Snacks Become Mini-Meals: How Food Companies Can Keep Up”). And manufacturers and suppliers need to build rubrics of convenience into their wares in order to fit into the game.

Increasingly, three central tenets need consideration when approaching the idea of convenience and snacks:

  • Portion size
  • Ease of consumption
  • Cultural resonance

Portion size can have different meanings for different products—and for different retail channels. One approach is to shrink traditional snack product sizes somewhat, making them more portable but still suited to sharing. Sand-up pouches of various sizes achieve this feat nicely. And Multipacks, sold as multiple single-serve products within one larger retail package—nicely suited to warehouse/club stores, but also seen in grocery and discount—are a strong bet for a quick grab-and-go before leaving the house. Orchard Valley Harvest has a couple of new products that fill both of these two bills quite nicely; other interesting contenders of late include new pack shapes, like the single-serve E-Z SnackPak. For front-of-store sales and the C-store market, retail-ready packaging options abound for these single-serve impulse buys. I also like the Flip & Fill caps that Walgreens has been using of late, designed to pour your snack into the container’s lid.

That third point above is a bit trickier… Allusions to “cultural resonance” can rope-in myriad factors, including flavor profiles, ingredient selection, incorporation of “green” ideals, on-pack and other marketing messaging, etc. Such variables are highly demographic-specific and could form the basis of multiple weighty reports… But some takeaways continue to rise to the top of late, including the fact that “green” and sustainable packaging is increasingly part of the price of doing business these days (people expect it); “natural” (as ridiculous as the term can be sometimes for those in the know…) isn’t going anywhere; and “better-for-you” and “health-and-wellness” now legitimately factor into purchase decisions—as long as the product still tastes good, often with strong hedonic appeal for an industry like snack.

I’m eagerly anticipating PACK EXPO, coming up in the next week, to see how the industry is addressing the needs for convenient, green-leaning packaging for portable foods. We’re sure to find much grist for the mill.

For more information on convenient snacking, visit the following destinations on the Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery website: