The meat snacks category is witnessing a great deal of activity. Low-carb diets have increased demand, while enhanced flavours and innovative formats are winning new customers. Mintel’s Alissa Ostrowski reports.

The meat snacks category is witnessing a great deal of activity, and by the end of 2003, Mintel’s gnpd product forecasting system predicts a 62% increase in launch activity on the previous year. The heightened activity has created an environment of innovation and change where enhanced flavours appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers and new formats offer convenient snacks for trips, school lunches and other events. In North America, the popularity of the high protein/low carbohydrate diet increased demand for meat snacks, making it likely that future product trends originate in the US or Canada.


This review analyses new product trends in meat snacks, including dried, dehydrated, smoked, cured or kippered meat-based snacks such as jerky or sausages.


Launch activity


The savoury/salty snacks sub-category contributed more than 5,700 new product introductions over the period covered, accounting for 50% of all launch activity. The meat snacks sub-category contributed less than 4% of all snack introductions during the period of review. However, data from 2003 shows a 63% increase in activity over the previous year.













































Total snack introductions, by sub-category
2001

2002

2003

Total
Hors d’oeuvres/canapes
303

321

487

1111
Meat snacks
105

119

194

418
Nuts
239

350

463

1052

Savoury/salty snacks


1352

1964

2441

5757
Snack bars, snack mixes & energy bars
880

983

1337

3200
Total
2879

3737

4922

11538
Source: Global New Products Database
Note: Numbers include new brands and line extensions, but do not include packaging changes and products flagged as new and improved

It is apparent that launch activity tends to shift considerably when looking at the chart above. However, it appears that many producers introduced a number of fresh, new items into the market in 2003. Key new product launches include the 11 Slim Jim items from Spitz Sales in Canada and Safeway ‘s four new Mini Bites Scotch Eggs products in the UK.




























Total meat snack introductions, by launch type


2001

2002

2003

Total

New product


44

62

98

204

New variety/range extension


61

57

96

214

Total


105

119

194

418
Source: Global New Products Database
Note: Numbers include new brands and line extensions, but do not include packaging changes and products flagged as new and improved

The North American region posted more than 200 product introductions, accounting for 54% of all launch activity worldwide. The European region followed with 100 launches (24% of total) while Asia Pacific contributed 17% of the 418 products introduced over the period covered. Although launch figures from the Asia Pacific region are relatively low in comparison to Europe and North America, a number of innovative packages and interesting flavours recently surfaced, which will likely capture the attention of producers in other regions in the near future.














































Total meat snack introductions, by region


2001

2002

2003

Total

Asia Pacific


10

9

52

71

Europe


27

31

42

100

Latin America


2

3

3

8

Middle East & Africa


2

4

7

13

North America


64

72

90

226

Total


105

119

194

418
Source: Global New Products Database
Note: Numbers include new brands and line extensions, but do not include packaging changes and products flagged as new and improved

Formats
Meat snacks are found in a variety of shapes and sizes providing consumers with convenient, portable snack options. Recent additions include sticks, bites, medallions, chunks and chips; however novel introductions include Ya Tai Shi’s kabob-style meatball product under the Maverick label in China. Other items such as Jack Link’s Pizza Pals Pepperoni Sausage Stick include complementary snack foods such as mozzarella cheese.


Individually wrapped products allow consumers to portion out snacks on a daily basis for school lunches, long trips, and outdoor activities. In China and Japan, larger packages often contain an assortment of wrapped meat snacks, including Hang Zhou Jia Mei Lu You Ying’s beef snacks, individually wrapped beef snacks that have the look and feel of many confectionery items.


Health focus
In general, new products are commonly positioned as natural, high protein, low fat snack options. A few health-focused products, such as Fuzhou Dingding Foods’ Pork Floss for Children, also emphasise additional nutritional benefits by promoting minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc. Other products, such as Mingning Trade’s “nutritious meat floss snack” in China, include sesame and seaweed, two natural ingredients that offer a number of health benefits.


Other meatless varieties claim to possess superior health benefits as many contain less cholesterol than their beef or sausage counterparts. In 2002, for example, Tasty Eats introduced the Tasty Eats Soy Jerky in the US in Original, Teriyaki, Honey Ginger, Hot N’ Spicy and Peppered varieties. According to the company, the preservative-free soy snacks are low in fat and cholesterol. Later in 2003, Green Options introduced its cholesterol-, preservative-free Quick Stix Meatless Pepperoni Snacks in Original, Italian Spice and Blazin’ Hot flavors in Canada. The company states that the high protein, low carb snacks are “convenient to eat anywhere and anytime”.


Flavours and ingredients
Teriyaki, pepper and smoke flavours remain popular, while products flagged as being hot or spicy remain key. In addition, ethnic flavours such as curry are becoming more prevalent; evident from the introduction of Hangzhou Osaka House Foods’ Curry flavoured beef slices in China. A few products also include savoury components such as garlic, onion, and tomato, such as the Cheese & Onion smoked mini salami snack from R & W Houdek in Germany.


Products within the category vary considerably in terms of flavour; however, a few commonalities exist when considering the meat itself as 50% of all products launched over the period covered were beef-based snacks. Other meat sources are gaining ground, although sausage and chicken products collectively contributed just 15% of the 369 products introduced between 2001 and September 2003. In the US, ostrich products are gaining in popularity, while chicken, a traditional favourite, is beginning to surface with the introduction of Snack Time Teriyaki Chicken Chunks from Tyson Foods.


Forecast/Predictions



  • Future products will include complementary snack items such as cheese or breadsticks.

  • Expect to see an increase in premium, high-end meat snack products in regions where high protein, low carbohydrate foods are highly valued. In South Africa, for example, Stormberg introduced a range of droëwors snacks (a traditional South African sausage) made from natural, veld-fed, free-range cattle, which adds to the high quality image.

  • New formats will include products such as the Micro Bak’N! Artificially Flavoured Bacon Snacks from Microwave Roaster in the US. The company describes the product as “lots of fun” as users “watch ’em pop!” Although this is not technically a meat snack (the product is meat-free), it does offer opportunities for meat-based snacks that can puff in the microwave