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Soy Friendly Global Snack Trends

By Linda Funk

Trend research suggests the global snacks industry is evolving in ways that can work to the advantage of Sustainable U.S. Soy. With consumers focused on their personal health as well as planetary environmental health, the plant-based food trend continues to flourish.1 Traditional and innovative soy foods bring sustainability and high-quality protein to the table, with snack options that are likely to appeal to a broad consumer base.

Motivations for Snacking: Snack choices vary by occasion. Some snackers are looking for meal replacements, while others want to reward themselves or indulge in impulse snacking.2 Based on internet search topics, meal replacement snacks are drawing more interest globally. Soy foods and soy-based plant protein products can help meet such demands. In a recent poll, 51% of consumers surveyed said they had switched to high protein snacks. Popular snacks in the global health and wellness market —trail mixes, nuts and seeds—have a 41% market share. Protein bars follow, with a 20% market share.3


Mindful Snacking: Health-related priorities are evident in the evolution of today’s snacking habits. Mindful eating promotes an awareness of food choices, including snacks, and it ranks second (14%) only to clean eating (16%) as the most popular eating pattern. 6 The nutrition profile and attributes of soy food snacks are a good fit for the plant-based, planet-friendly and health-conscious snacking styles of many consumers worldwide. One cup of edamame, for example, offers approximately 33 grams of protein and 10 grams of dietary fiber with no cholesterol.7 In the U.S., snack cookies made with okara flour are an upcycled product promoted as a planet-friendly choice. When it comes to snacks like protein bars, 23% of U.S. recently polled consumers reported having switched from purchased products to baking their own.8

Who’s Eating What: Globally, 51% of consumers have gravitated toward high-protein, low sugar snacks, 9 which could include dry-roasted edamame. Among Millennials in the U.S., 28% seek foods, beverages, or nutrients with immune health and functionality benefits,10 which could include fermented foods like soy yogurt.

Plant-based yogurt holds appeal for Thai consumers, where 42% say they are limiting their dairy intake most or all of the time. In fact, 51% express an interest in plant-based yogurt. Additionally, 77% of consumers in Thailand consider salty snacks a good way to treat themselves. Among consumers aged 25 to 34, that number rises to 81%.14 Globally inspired savory packaged soy snacks include sriracha roasted edamame, wasabi flavored soy nuts, flavored tempeh chips, dried natto snacks and masala-flavored soy sticks.

In U.S. restaurants, snack menu trends include upscale bar snacks and reduced-sugar snacks. Global flavors are also helping to create bolder snack offerings, such as ghost pepper french fries 15 and edamame tempura. For fried snacks, soy innovations like globally approved U.S.-grown High Oleic Soybean oil reflect the commitment of U.S. soybean growers. The improved fat profile of the oil helps foodservice operators and food manufacturers meet consumer heart health and nutrition demands. High Oleic Soybean Oil also offers improved shelf-life and fry-life.16

Choosing high-quality U.S. Soy for snack ingredients also aligns for meeting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the environmentally responsible U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP).

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