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The Evolution Of The Snack Foods Industry

Different snacks on the table

Snacks have come a long way since their humble beginnings, evolving with the times. In this exploration of the evolution of the snack foods industry, we delve into the transformative journey, with a spotlight on how Cablevey Conveyors has played a pivotal role in shaping the way snacks are produced and distributed.

The Evolution of the Snack Foods Industry

Snacks are more than just little bites between meals – they play a more significant role in today’s society than one might realize. Throughout human history, the content and frequency of meals have always varied. From ancient times, people consumed leftovers and light foods between meals, and those were often sweet and natural foods that required little or no preparation (such as fruit).

However, in the 19th-century United States, the interest in snack foods changed. People went from consuming natural foods to consuming prepared commercial snacks with high sugar and salt content. Fast forward to the 21st century, and the snack industry has seen a remarkable expansion thanks to advancements in both tubular conveyor and conveyor belt systems. Let’s look at the evolution of the snack food industry and what drove significant changes in snacks over the years.

America and Snacks – From the 1900s to Today

Even though it may be hard to believe, classic snacks like dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate bars were once innovative products. As we delve deeper into snack history, we also uncover the pivotal role of technology, such as the advent of the tubular conveying system, which revolutionized the way snacks are transported in the manufacturing process. Let’s go back through time to look at more than 100 years of America’s greatest snacking moments.

  • The 1900s

Back in 1904, new types of foods and beverages were introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair – cotton candy, hamburgers, hot dogs, and waffle cones for ice cream. In 1905, Lombardi’s opened as the first licensed pizzeria in America.

  • The 1910s 

In 1912, America first encountered Oreo – the world’s most iconic sandwich cookie. During this decade, Pep-O-Mint candies appeared, while the Tasty Baking Company began to sell Tastykakes, the individually wrapped chocolate that revolutionized on-the-go snacking.

  • The 1920s

Snacking began to flourish during the Jazz Age, when legendary sweet snacks, such as Nestle Drumsticks, Butterfinger, Mike and Ike, Heath Bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Mr. Goodbar, and Oh Henry appeared on the market.

  • The 1930s

Lay’s Potato Chips, Frito corn chips, Snickers, Twinkies, and Ritz Crackers were introduced during the Great Depression. At the same time, the Girl Scouts’ cookie fundraisers became so popular that they had to outsource the cookie production to commercial bakers.

  • The 1940s

What had the biggest impact on the snacking industry and trends of this decade was the US involvement in WWII. Popular and practical additions to soldier’s ration kits were Tootsie Rolls, M&Ms, and other heat-resistant chocolates. After the war, new products appeared on the market, such as Smarties, Junior Mints, Almond Joys, and Cheetos.

  • The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s

After WWII, the economy began to thrive, and Americans have seen the rise of fast-food franchises that took over the world within a few decades. But besides the hamburger, pizza, nachos, and tacos, there were snacks such as Pringles, Doritos, Apple Jacks, Funyuns, Lucky Charms, and Pop-Tarts. During the 1970s, women began entering the workforce, which is why more emphasis was put on pre-cooked foods packaged in oversized food jars. And there were also some other great snacks, such as Reese’s Pieces, Twix, Pop Rocks, and instant ramen.

  • The 1980s and 1990s

We have to thank the 80s and 90s for Teddy Grahams, Handi-Snacks, Fruit Roll-Ups, Ranch Doritos, Airheads, SnackWells Devil’s Food Cookies, Bagel Bites, and many more.

  • The 21st century

In the last 20 years, snackers enjoyed a wider selection of snack foods than ever before. Gross-out candies have become the fastest-growing candy market segment in the US. Other more popular snack makers are Hershey’s, Quaker, Smucker’s, Cheerios, Pillsbury, Frito-Lay, and many others.

How Millennials Turned Snacking Into a Prevailing Food Trend?

PR Newswire shows that a staggering 81% of Americans have at least one snack a day, and this rate is about 40% among Millennials. Another study indicates that more and more people go to restaurants for snacks than for any other meal. These findings also showed that people tend to replace lunch with snacks more than any other meal.

As consumers increasingly lean towards snacks throughout the day, belt conveyor manufacturers play a crucial role in ensuring the seamless and efficient production of these popular snack items. This connection between consumer trends and manufacturing underscores the importance of a well-coordinated production system.

The typical afternoon snack choices for replacing meals often include potato chips as the most common option, trailed by hamburgers and fries. Additionally, individuals frequently opt for sweet alternatives such as doughnuts, cookies, and sweet rolls when seeking a satisfying substitute for lunch.

When it comes to morning snacks, people like to nibble on numerous snacks, from sweet rolls and energy bars to sandwiches and savory snacks like potato chips or pretzels. In the evening, people like to indulge in some ice cream, along with all the already-mentioned treats.

Millennials Leveled Up the Snacking – Aesthetic and Social Enjoyment

Since this generation is linked up on social media, Millennials also prefer snacks that are simultaneously enjoyable and pleasing to the eye. Consumer trends show that they like to share their snacking experiences, so they are looking for attractive, indulgent, social-media-worthy snack products. While 62% of Millennials stated that snacks added variety to their diet, many of them also claimed that they loved snacking because “it is fun.”

This shift in snacking behavior is a call for the snack food industry to embrace innovation, including the integration of advanced conveyor technologies such as an automatic conveyor system that streamlines production processes.

Sally Lyons Wyatt, a seasoned expert in the shopping and consumer industry, offers valuable advice on how the snack food industry may evolve and capitalize on this emerging trend. According to her, people in the industry need to understand the nature of this shift if they want to win “the fair share of stomachs.”

Finally, finding the appropriate price for your snack product is the ultimate precondition for winning a share of the snack food market and building and retaining consumers’ trust and loyalty.

Different kinds of snack foods

What Are the Future Snack Market Trends?

According to the Specialty Food Association’s research, the top three specialty food categories that account for 48% of total snack sales are salty snacks, like chips and pretzels, with a $4 billion profit in retail sales. Specialty chocolate snacks follow with $2.5 billion and a 14% growth. Specialty yogurt and kefir products are right behind, with $2.2 billion in retail sales and an 8.5% growth. The statistics prove that people now want high-protein and convenient diet options.

What is driving today’s snack industry is innovating with balanced choices (more healthy snacks). Namely, innovation has always been a growth engine in the snack industry. Lately, we have found innovations spanning various themes, such as cookie innovations that offer multiple benefits, probiotic bars, and refrigerated snack kits.

The Ascending Trajectory – A Decade of Growth and Future Potential in the Snack Industry

Looking back 15 years, we can see that snacking has been a steadily growing industry where the trends have all been upward (with limited exceptions). When it comes to the future of the snack industry, there is nothing but opportunity. Snack sales have risen two to five times faster than the food industry during the past decade. 

And surely, the role of a conveyor belt system and conveyor engineering is huge. Since the market has a lower barrier to entry than other food groups, it is attracting various new companies that are scaling up and being acquired.

Manufacturing Conveyor Systems – Cablevey Provides the Right Conveyor Solutions

Common ingredients found in contemporary popular snacks are typically uncomplicated, comprising minimal elements such as sugar, flour, salt, nuts, fat, dried fruit, and various crunchy additives. Cablevey’s tubular cable and disc system is perfectly suitable for conveying these brittle and powdery materials – especially pellets, nuts, and extruded snacks – without breakage and in a sanitary way. Moving materials without breakage is especially important in snack food manufacturing since no consumer would want to buy a bag full of broken crackers or potato chips.

Cablevey Conveyors is one of the best conveyor systems manufacturers in the market and can be your reliable partner when developing new formulations, creating a product, and testing the market. The enclosed industrial conveyor systems are custom-designed and can fit into any processing scheme and manufacturing space. Our conveyors can be engineered to service every part of your production process – from mixing to baking/cooking to packaging. We have equipped numerous snack food facilities (from small to large) in dozens of countries worldwide.

A tubular conveying system

Embracing the Snack Revolution With Cablevey Automated Conveyor Systems

Americans’ eating habits have changed significantly over the past ten years. People got hooked on snacking because it is a ready-to-go, convenient, and enjoyable diet that can replace regular meals. For all these reasons, the future of snacking, the snack food industry, and the market size are bright, bringing in $100.8 billion in profit in the United States annually.

If you are searching for conveyor systems that are both efficient and reliable to enhance the scale of your snack food production, Cablevey conveyor manufacturing is your ideal solution. Our custom-designed enclosed tubular cable and disc systems with features like cleaning conveyor belts and conveyor installation supervision are tailored to seamlessly integrate into any space and manufacturing process.These systems guarantee the integrity of your product as it traverses through the production line without any risk of breakage. Contact us today to learn more about our customizable conveyors and how they can benefit your snack food business.