The market for salted snacks in the US has grown at an annual rate of over 7% since 1997, thanks largely by a growing trend of product innovation; of tweaking existing products with new flavours, shapes and textures to reignite consumer interest.

Packaging trends, including convenience size products, are also serving to energise a flagging market, according to the US Market for Salted Snacks report published by MarketResearch.com. Americans are far more time-pressed today than they have been in the past, and the current popularity of conveniently packaged foods attests to the ways in which this time crunch has altered dietary habits.

Packages that allow consumers to eat on the go, such as snack-sized bags and resealable containers, are changing snacking from an occasional event to a standard part of US culture. Afternoon snacking is now almost a fourth meal for consumers who have a longer day than ever before.

"The continued growth of the salted snack market is absolutely dependent on product innovation," said Don Montuori, acquisition editor for Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com. "New developments are keeping customers interested in an old and familiar market that otherwise would have very flat sales numbers."