Salty snacks in Germany: Balancing indulgence and health

Indulgence is regarded as “highly important” to the average German consumer, and in surveys, these consumers generally respond more positively than other nationalities to the concept of treating themselves. A new Innova Market Insights report on the savoury snacks market in Germany revealed that indulgence claims are the single most important influence on consumers’ snack purchase decisions, named by more than a quarter of respondents. This puts indulgence ahead of naturalness and health issue when it comes to choosing snacks.

New product development in Germany reflects a growing emphasis on balance, however, with indulgent choices now having to share more shelf space with an expanding range of healthier snacks. For example, popcorn has gained ground rapidly within new product development (NPD), with launch numbers up at a CAGR of 21% over 2015-2019 to reach a share of 7% of all snacks launches. Popcorn can deliver indulgence through diverse flavour choices, but it is also benefiting from a healthier profile compared with more traditional snacks, such as potato chips. The latter still account for around a fifth of all snacks launches but have demonstrated an annual decline in introduction since 2015.

Stronger and more direct health claims remain relatively limited in the German snacks market, but there are some areas that are drawing attention. Claims related to protein contents have seen particularly rapid expansion, for example, reaching penetration of 6% of all snacks launches in 2019, with this share having risen at a CAGR of 51% since 2015. Plant-based snacks are also starting to attract more attention by German innovators, although there is still a long way to go to match the levels of NPD seen in the US and the UK.

Balance appears to be the key in German salty snacks development, with a market that is seemingly polarised between indulgence and healthier snacking. Innova Market Insights suggested that future focus could, therefore, be centred on blending these two ideas and establishing products on a more “permissibly indulgent” platform, using indulgent tastes and flavours to add value to healthy formulations.