New data from global market-intelligence agency Mintel spotlights the developments and future outlook of “Fresh Snacking,” in its report: The Future of Fresh. Sponsored by Perfect Bar, LLC, makers of The Original Refrigerated Protein Bar, and independently researched and written by Mintel in collaboration with SPINS, the report quantifies the impact and implications of “Fresh” in CPG, e-commerce and retail, as well as illuminates the immense opportunities that lie ahead.

Fresh Snacking Is On The Rise

With 94 percent of adults snacking daily, Fresh Snacking is driving the growth in grocery stores’ snacking categories.

Data reported by SPINS indicates that the $40B Conventional Snacking market declined 2% annually, over the past three years, while “Health and Wellness” Snacking grew 6 percent annually, driven by outsized growth from Fresh Snacking, which grew 8% annually.

Source: SPINS; MULO, Natural and Specialty Gourmet Channels; 52 Weeks ending 4/22/2018 vs Prior Years

Mintel research has identified six packaged-product segments to most clearly define the Fresh Snacking category: refrigerated protein bars, protein snack packs, drinkable soups, bottled smoothies, yogurts and other products, such as hummus and guacamole.

These products have captured the interest of younger consumers, with “Is fresh” being the #1 purchase driver for Millennials (ages 23-40) and the iGeneration (ages 11-22), when shopping for food.

Albeit The Rise Of E-Commerce, Consumers Still Shop Brick-And-Mortar Grocery For “Fresh”

According to SPINS data, the market began accelerating in 2008, with the percentage of new, Fresh-Snacking product launches in the U.S. increasing by about four times, between 2008 and 2016. However, Fresh Snacking introductions in grocery stores paralleled the rise of e-commerce, representing the growth of a “Fresh” niche in brick-and-mortar retail; one that the online channel does not currently serve particularly well, due to shipping and cold-supply chain challenges.

Source: Mintel

Mintel anticipates that “Fresh” categories will be a bright spot for brick-and-mortar grocers, as e-commerce erodes core shelf-stable categories for grocery retail.

In recent years, consumer awareness of the location of higher-quality, “Fresh” options within the grocery store has increased. So much so that there is now an expectation that the perimeter of the store is the place for discovery and variety — with a third of shoppers saying they are specifically looking for new foods on the perimeter, while a quarter say the perimeter is where they purchase impulse items.

Changing Retail Landscape As Fresh Perimeter Grows

With the Fresh Perimeter growing at 2.1X the rate of Total Food & Bev, it is clear that shelf-stable products will continue to yield space to “Fresh” as the perimeter moves inward.

These purchase-decision areas have grown around the Perimeter and are even driving retailers to expand refrigerated cases into the center of the store; most notably in the pet food and baby food aisles. Mintel anticipates that retail environments will continue to evolve around “Fresh” concepts, with stores expanding their percentage of refrigerated shelf space and the front of store supporting click & collect or home-delivery offerings that support refrigeration.

Insights From A Fresh Category Leader

The trend toward “Fresh” is now moving beyond its infancy, which means substantial opportunities lie ahead. One brand that has been a “Fresh” pioneer since its inception is San Diego-based Perfect Bar. Founder and CEO Bill Keith shares the Company’s role in the Fresh Snacking evolution and Mintel’s findings:

“As The Original Refrigerated Protein Bar, Perfect Bar was an anchor brand in the Fresh Snacking set more than a decade ago. Since then, we’ve watched consumers’ adoption of a ‘fresher-is-better’ mindset drive brands to the perimeter of the store and, in turn, shift the retail layout to focus on making the fridge a prominent shopping destination,” said Keith. “We see immense opportunity ahead for Fresh Snacking and plan to continue delivering delicious and nutritious products that set the bar for what consumers expect out of the Fresh Set.”