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Big snacking opportunities proving difficult to exploit for vegetables

Consumers are increasingly looking for healthy snacks, but opportunities for vegetables mapped by research a decade ago are still proving elusive due to challenging logistics.

It the ongoing drive to increase vegetable consumption, it's important to explore opportunities in every meal, and even between meals.

Snacking is a huge but sometimes overlooked consumption occasion, and it offers significant potential for vegetables. It also has significant challenges, however. Nine years ago, fresh food market analyst Freshlogic undertook a levy-funded project that dug into just how big the vegetable snacking potential was, where the opportunities lay and what the big hurdles were.

Since that project vegetables have made some headway into snacking, but Freshlogic's CEO Martin Kneebone says that while the template for success now exists, it's not easy to replicate.

"All consumers are saying 'we would like more nutritious snacks'," says Martin. "Eventually, that ends up as a trade-off with convenience and where they can source the product when they're hungry."

"The challenges of a perishable product trying to manage that through the supply chain make it hard for vegetables, particularly if that product involves a level of preparation."

The size of the snacking market is significant. Freshlogic's levy-funded project, Market research around the opportunity to create more vegetable snacking options to quantify market size (VG14024), found that snacking represented 11 percent of the total food and grocery market by value, with an annual retail value of $9.33 billion in 2015. 'Healthy' snacks represented about 40 percent of that, with fruit accounting for half of that.

A consistent theme among the successful snacking products the project identified was their convenience and portability.

"The convenience of delivery and the product form were overarching considerations," says Martin. "That invited a look at vending machines to get a fresh, nutritious snacking offer closer to where the need might be, but people had a lot more propensity to buy a packet of chips rather than a sliced carrot in that sort of environment."

"We found that the sweet spot was a vegetable product that stayed whole and was able to travel through the supply chain in that form. At that stage it was pretty clear that a small snacking tomato was successful in that sense."

Snacking success hard to come by
Establishing successful new vegetable snacking products hasn't been easy. Martin says since the original research, only a few have been really successful. Snacking tomatoes were a fast-growing product when the research was done nine years ago, and in the years since the trail they blazed has been followed by other products, most notably baby cucumbers.

For more information:
Martin Kneebone
Tel.: +61 03 9818 1588

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