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White Paper. 2022 Keto-Friendly Snack Trends

White Paper. 2022 Keto-Friendly Snack Trends

After an extended period of isolation resulting from the COVID-19 virus, it is not surprising that today’s consumers have emerged with a heightened focus on health, including the impact of one’s diet on wellbeing, what constitutes healthy eating choices, and overall mind and body wellness. 

Ketogenic, or “keto” for short, is currently one of the most popular health food related search terms across the United States. A ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet that forces the body into a state of ketosis. The results? Your body turns into a superbly efficient, fat-burning machine. 

Given growing consumer interest in keto-friendly snacks, reports about the keto related health food market project that the market will be worth $14.69 billion by 2027. 

At Simporter, we recognized the emergence of the keto diet trend and wanted to more deeply explore the impact of COVID-19 on the ketogenic snack market. Through this exploration, we would be able to prepare for a shift in consumer attitudes and to discover trends and opportunities to act on throughout the next year and into 2022. To carry this out, we combined the intelligent automation of Whitespace AI and the skills of expert data analysts and identified the three fastest growing trends for the keto market: 

  1. Consumers want keto-friendly cereals that can meet their additional dietary needs
  2. Keto dieters look to meat snacks to satisfy hunger in a big way
  3. Meat snacks have big opportunity with vegan keto dieters
keto-friendly snack trends - food - meal on a white table

Data Analyzed for this Report

For this report, we used our WhiteSpace AI platform to collect and analyze over 2,200 products, 1.7 million mentions, and 528 brands. We analyzed consumer interest for every relevant keyword phrase across tens of thousands of reviews, descriptions, Google search results, and consumer mentions on social media. 

We then scored the level of consumer interest for each keyword phrase by cross-analyzing:

  • Search frequency
  • Volume of social media posts
  • Sentiment
  • Mentions
  • Competition 

Each keyword phrase was scored by its competitive levels and consumer need state.

Why Keto is Popular Now

Consumer interest in clean eating and awareness of the relationship between diet, health, and wellness has been mounting over the last couple of years. This large shift towards an increasingly health conscious attitude is what has propelled the keto diet into the spotlight. 

Years ago, fat was looked at as the human body’s archenemy. Everything was low-fat and low-calorie, but over the last couple of years, all that has changed. Now, reducing carbs and sugars are the key lifestyle changes being endorsed by celebrities and chefs. Keto cookbooks are popping up all over and social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok offer spaces for people to see keto recipes being made in real life and to engage with like-minded keto enthusiasts. 

Today, people of all ages are looking for more holistic diets, sustainable weight loss strategies, and ways to eat whole, unprocessed meats and foods. This has sparked a revival of the role healthy fats play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and in how balancing these fats with a healthy amount of proteins and minimal carbs can produce net-positive impacts on our bodies. 

Biohacking with Keto 

Another major driving force behind the keto diet is the mounting testimonials around the diets’ success in reducing the severity of diabetes, increasing athletic performance, and positively impacting sleep, mood, concentration, and energy levels. In fact, one study found that many of its participants were able to decrease their diabetes medication by over half, with some participants discontinuing their medication usage altogether.   

Once more and more consumers learn how to ‘biohack’ with keto, there will be no stopping its momentum. That is why food manufacturers have a great opportunity to be at the forefront of the keto market before it reaches full speed. Their easiest path to success? Snacks.

Snacking for Health: Consumers Are Pushing the Boundaries of Traditional Snacking

Today’s consumers are aware of the relationship between their diet, health, and wellbeing and have become interested in clean eating to support this relationship. It comes as no surprise then that the keto diet is trending amongst consumers with “keto” being the most searched food-related topic across the United States. 

Keto market research reveals that most consumer interest in the keto foods sector centers around supplements, snacks, dairy, and beverages, as well as other select foods. The snack sector constitutes the biggest share of the global keto market out of all product categories.

Keto-friendly snacks are now available in many forms such as candies, beans, bars, chips, cereals, dairy snacks, meat snacks, and more. Of these, Simporter found

candies, bars, and cereals are the highest growing forms of keto-friendly foods, seeing growth in mentions of 169 percent, 105 percent, and 84 percent respectively according to more than 72,000 consumer data points collected by Simporter.

The keto industry is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5 percent. Hence the market size of $9.57 billion in 2019, is estimated to reach $14.69 billion by 2027.

As a result, there are many brands such as Dang, Magic Spoon, Barely Bread, Core Bar, and many others that are present in this space and are capitalizing on the long-term growth opportunities presented. 

Which Snacks Have the Most Opportunity? 

Though candy and snack bars have the top two highest growing mentions, companies should still proceed with caution in these areas. The snack bar space is the most competitive so we recommend steering clear. Additionally, the candy space is the least mature, which presents some risks due to market uncertainty. 

Keto-friendly cereal on the other hand, is right in the sweet spot and has the highest potential for future innovation. In a surprising twist, meat snacks also have great opportunities to flourish in the keto market.

  1. Consumers are Crazy for Keto Cereals

With the lockdown lifestyle now exceeding a year, research shows the average person gained nearly one pound per month during the lockdown-driven home isolation. As a result, consumers are increasingly switching to weight conscious diets, with the keto diet at the forefront.

Across the United States, consumer interest in the keto diet has grown 8 times since the start of 2017, according to Simporter data. With consumers on the lookout for quick weight loss strategies, major Consumer Packaged Goods (“CPG”) brands are stepping up to the plate to provide keto-friendly, low carb alternatives to traditionally high carb foods.

keto-friendly snack trends - salad- meal - food

The Current State of Cereal

Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Post Holdings have traditionally controlled the cereal aisle, boasting the top 10 brands in the category for years. While other major players like Nestle have entered the market, they still have not been able to break into the top 10. Intriguingly, Simporter data shows that a majority of the top 10 cereal brands target children and teenagers, such as Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, and Reese’s Puffs.

Parents often buy cereal as an easy breakfast that their children will enjoy. With flavor and aesthetics as the focus of these brands, children and teenagers love the quick-to-make meal. Beyond convenience, parents also appreciate the long shelf life and low price entry point, which means virtually every child has tasted one of these cereals at some point in their life. Unfortunately, these cereals typically contain high amounts of sugar and vibrant artificial colors. 

The Growth of Keto Cereals 

With the increase in health conscious consumer behavior, consumer interest in keto cereals has grown 1.6 times over the past year. Compared to similar topics in the cereal category, consumer interest in keto cereal has grown 2.9 times quicker than vegan cereals, 8.3 times quicker than natural cereals, and 2.2 times quicker than organic cereals all in just the past year.

As a result, major manufacturers have branched out and begun developing keto-friendly cereals for people on the ketogenic diet. In early 2021, Kellogg’s launched Kashi Go Cereal and General Mills debuted Wonderworks Keto-Friendly Cereal.

Opportunities in Youth-Focused Keto Cereals

So far, children and teenagers have been overlooked by big brand companies creating keto-friendly cereal options. Whether the companies missed the mark on the packaging, forgot to add a mascot, or simply produced a flavorless, sugarless product —Kellogg’s and General Mills have failed in meeting the younger demographic’s needs for keto-friendly cereal.

This failure is a shame. Those under the age of 21 are the largest consumers of cereals. However, parents are the main purchasers of grocery items and when scanning an aisle, a keto parent is increasingly likely to pick out a fun, healthy alternative to the typical sugary cereal. As a result, children’s keto cereals are growing rapidly — yet major brands have failed to step in and meet the demand.

Niche players like Magic Spoon and Snack House are leading the category, creating keto cereals for kids that are colorful, feature fun characters, and are promoted as family snacks.

Consumers Look to Keto-Friendly Meat Snacks to Satisfy Hunger in a Big Way Meat snacks have come a long way. What were once glossed over at the convenience store as quick, poor-quality mystery meat, have now been claiming space on shelves as healthy, on-the-go protein for health conscious consumers. 

What are Meat Snacks

If you don’t know already, meat snacks are ready-to-eat (RTE) food products that usually consist of dried or dehydrated animal-derived raw materials. The raw materials can be processed into several forms for consumption, such as strips, shreds, nuggets, and more. They offer a decent source of protein along with other minerals and vitamins such as zinc, omega-3 fatty acid, iron, and vitamin B12. 

keto-friendly snack trends - meat - plant-based meat

The Current State of Meat Snacks

The global meat snack market grew at a CAGR of approximately 7% from 2014-2019. The market share has been traditionally concentrated in a few large companies which control the majority of the market. Recently however, there has been an explosion of artisanal and craft brands slowly taking up space on store shelves. 

These craft brands speak to the increasingly health-conscious, processed-food-adverse consumer. Today, eighty-eight percent of adults say they are snacking at least as much during the pandemic as before. This habit will most likely stick as it becomes more and more popular for consumers to move away from traditional, time consuming meals and toward more frequent snacking throughout their busy days.

Portion-controlled snacks are also very appealing to consumers. They help people feel more in control of their snacking and experience less guilt, while providing a convenient source of energy. 

Convenience is also a key driver in the snack market. Even as more people have worked from home over the last year, their lives were still hectic and times still

uncertain. An easy grab-and-go snack from the kitchen was, and still is, in demand. 

The Growth of Keto-Friendly Meat Snacks

In 2020, 128.73 million Americans consumed meat snacks and beef jerky in the United States. By 2024, this number is expected to increase by 3% to 132.58 million. Additionally, the meat snack market is projected to reach a sales value of $4.9 billion U.S. dollars by 2022.

Numbers like those above show growth in the market and it seems like the nutritional benefits of meat sticks would attract swarms of keto dieters. Yet, inside the emerging keto category, meat snacks tend to be underperforming across the range of snack forms, with consumer interest dropping 27 percent in the past 6 months. 

This data may cause some brands to sound the alarm, but companies should not run away from this opportunity just yet. Brands like CHOMPS and FATTY, which are clean, keto-friendly beef jerky snacks, are thriving despite the drop in category-wide consumer interest. So, what gives? 

  1. Opportunities in Keto-Friendly Meat Snacks to Feed Hunger Cravings

Simporter’s data on consumer mentions from product reviews and social data show that satisfying extreme cravings and hunger are two of the fastest growing needs in consumer interest in the entire category of keto-friendly meat snacks with 98% and 74% growth rates respectively year on year. These are needs followed by allergen-friendly ingredients with a 64% growth rate and convenience needs at 58%. 

Out of all the snack categories, there is only one option that is best suited to satisfy cravings and extreme hunger and it is not cereal, candy or snack bars. Meat snacks are the answer as they fulfill both consumers’ needs to satisfy a craving and to satisfy hunger; needs which those who transition to keto diets experience quite intensely. 

As the body adjusts to new nutritional needs and as a person learns how to find and prepare the right foods for their new lifestyle, it is normal for people to feel extremely hungry as their body adjusts to ketosis. During the first few weeks, they may feel fatigued and will be tempted to fall back into their old eating habits. Meat snacks will help beginners feel full and will remain a bedrock snack as people transition fully into the keto lifestyle.

  1. Opportunities in Meat-free “Meat” Sticks

Meat-eaters are not the only ones who want quick, filling options. When Simporter dove into the consumer psychographics for meat snacks, we found that vegan was the highest category with a 425% growth rate in mentions year on year. Our consumer statistics show that the end-user is predominantly male. From this data, the assumption can be made that keto-friendly, vegan-friendly meat alternative snacks targeted at men and focused on convenience have a high opportunity for success in this category.  

Despite the diet being easier for those who will eat animal protein, it is still possible to hit ketosis as a vegan and vegetarian. Also, though “vegan meat snacks” might be one of the biggest oxymorons ever, when it comes down to it, keto vegans also want a quick way to feel full and to satisfy food cravings without diving off into the carb-filled deep end. A meat snack will give vegans a taste of something familiar and keep them on the keto diet track.

At the end of the day, most vegans want to eat what tastes good and brands like Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger, MorningStar Farms, and more are making plant-based meats more accessible and tasty, and offering options as diverse as their animal-based counterparts.

keto-friendly snack trends - meat on a white plate

Conceptualizing Keto-Friendly Snacks

With all this data, what’s next? Simporter’s data analysts and marketers work with companies to come up with worthy concepts and products that have the most potential to bring in high profits. Here are a couple of examples of how we took the keto-friendly snack data and turned it into theoretical examples of new products:

  1. Gluten-Free Keto-Friendly Cereal for Children

The latest trends in cereal range from low sugar alternatives, to convenience-focused snack bars, to high protein products, and now to keto-friendly cereals. Yet, today, major brands tend to focus their keto strategies on adult cereals, ignoring children and teenagers whose parents’ are on the keto diet and would like to purchase healthy and delicious cereals for their children. 

In order to grasp the larger opportunity in the cereal category, brands could introduce keto-friendly cereals for the youth demographic. With keto-friendly cereals, the whole family can enjoy the same type together without sacrificing sweetness or taste. 

  1. Vegan Jerky and Beef Sticks

Vegan consumers are always looking for new ways to get more protein in their diets, especially those consumers that follow a keto lifestyle. Keto vegans also want food products that can satisfy their hunger and are safe for other food allergies. 

Convenient, filling, and satisfying. These are the highest growing needs among keto-friendly snacks consumers, and coupled with the highest growing psychographics are why products like vegan jerky and soy-free beyond beef sticks would potentially make for highly competitive products in the meat snack market.

About Simporter

Simporter was founded in 2018 with the mission to automate new product research. We believe that Artificial Intelligence is the biggest thing to happen to market research since surveys were created.

Together, our team consists of some of the most experienced CPG professionals, brightest data scientists, quickest software engineers, and the most technology-driven marketers.

We help major CPG brands create better products with data instead of human guesswork. Our mission is global, with our two main offices split between Atlanta and Kyiv.

Our team believes in four major values: honesty, hard work, proactivity, and automation. We hope to see you join us on our mission to automate new product research!

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