Would you trust companies best-known for chocolate and Oreos to create your new favourite healthy snack?
Companies like Hershey, Mondelez, and CVS are getting in on the exploding healthy snack market, with offerings like protein bars and chia seeds.
With American consumers on a health kick, sales of treats that have been the companies’ bread-and-butter are slumping, while snacking is on the rise.
Hershey’s is currently preparing for its regional launch the ‘SoFit’ brand, with offerings like fruit and protein “squeezes” and snack squares. The company’s snack push began last year, when it acquired jerky-maker Krave and launched the Brookside fruit-and-nut bar line.
“We understand that consumers’ relationship with food is changing,” Marcel Nahm, the vice president of Hershey’s snack division, told Business Insider. “Consumers are more than ever interested in knowing what they put into their body, where does it come from, how does it get there… Consumers want more and more choices.”
Mondelez, the owner of the Oreo and Cadbury brands, is similarly trying to offer new options for consumers who want healthier snacks. In November, the company announced that within the next five years, half of its portfolio would contain healthy snacks, planning to focus 70% of new product development on healthy goods.
Then, there’s CVS, which, like Mondelez, has long sold snacks. However, the convenience chain isn’t known for its healthy flair — and certainly not offerings like the recently debuted protein smoothie or chia seeds. After the company stopped selling tobacco two years ago, it added more healthy offerings, debuting the health-focused Gold Emblem Abound line in 2014 and introducing more healthy items like Kashi and Kind in 2015.
It is clear that snacks are on the rise, as consumers increasingly perceive snacking as convenient, cost-efficient, and healthy. More and more, Nahm says, the average American’s daily diet is not made up of three square meals, but instead a number of snacks and mini-meals throughout the day.
Meanwhile, candy and sugary snacks are struggling.
Consumers’ growing desire for transparency and healthier options is shaping industries from fast-food to soda. Americans are ditching longtime sugary staples of their diets, swapping them out with new high-protein and lower-sugar options.
Additionally, candy and gum sales are falling with the decline of the traditional check-out line impulse buy.
So, companies are pairing new snacks with new marketing methods. Even though the brand is rolling out regionally, all of Hershey’s current SoFit items are now available to order via Amazon, while Mondelez is pushing social shopping with Facebook.
Still, companies say they won’t ditch the brands that made them famous.
“Confection is and will be the core [at Hershey] for the next hundred years,” says Nahm. “It’s a great category, and it is a place where we have built a really interesting and important skill set.”
However, as companies who built their brands on less-than-healthy treats and confections work to stay relevant in the 21st century, expect investments in nutritious snacks to be a big part of the game plan.
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