By consuming snacks, consumers are meeting a wide range of personal needs ranging from indulgence and comfort to nutritional benefits and emotional considerations. Innovating with dairy ingredients plays an increasing role in this trend. 

Snacking continues to expand beyond the historic definition of a smaller portion of food or drink eaten between regular meals. Many consumers have shifted away from regularly planned dining occasions to just-in-time convenience foods and meal delivery options. These trends have created new opportunities in the snacking category — for snacks to be consumed as a meal and for mini-meals to become snacks.

People made many behavior changes during the pandemic, including snacking at home rather than in the office. Frequent trips to a well-stocked pantry are one way to keep the long, monotonous work/school day interesting. As consumers crave adventure through food, they are interested in exploring bolder flavors and multisensory food experiences. 

Dairy ingredients in snacks

U.S. dairy ingredients are uniquely positioned to help food and beverage manufacturers seize opportunities in this space. They are not only functional and nutritious, but also versatile enough to bring creative and delicious food solutions that consumers desire. The ability of dairy to function across diverse foods and beverages enables formulators to innovate and create convenient applications highlighting different types of global cuisines.

Data from Innova Markets Insights' Innova Database reveal that the number of new global food and beverage product introductions made with whey proteins (7,409) and with milk proteins (9,413) both set new records in 2020 and many of these are snack products. Health- and fitness-minded consumers have embraced the clean-label and nutritional advantages of incorporating more protein into their diets, driving formulators to deliver protein boosts throughout the day beyond the traditional bar. New snacks range from chips and dips and popcorns to protein-coated almonds and more. 

Apart from the ongoing protein trend, permeate is gaining popularity as a cost-effective, mineral-rich ingredient that has both flavor-enhancing and sodium-reducing properties. Further data from Innova Market Insights show the number of global food and beverage new product launches tracked with permeate is on the rise, with a record-breaking 531 new product launches tracked globally in 2019. 

Tapping into permeate’s salty flavor-enhancement characteristics, products have expanded beyond traditional applications such as baked goods and hot drinks to savory snacks and iced coffee beverages.  

Combining U.S. dairy ingredients with local flavors presents a way to capitalize on global trends through a lens of local taste profiles and consumer habits. For more information about how dairy ingredients deliver the complete package of health and wellness, functionality, innovation, and sustainability benefits, visit