Mar 18, 2021

Supercharged Snacks


Propelled by a heightened focus on personal health, consumers are turning to an emerging wave of food & drink closing the gap between nutrition and medicine


As far back as the 1960s, scifi stories and media have been exalting the promise of sterilized nutritional blocks, meal-in-a-pills, and do-it-all wonder drugs.

Underscoring all these dreams was a merger between food and medicine resulting in a hyper-efficient means for nutrition and health. Indeed, when the first incarnations of nutraceuticals (nutrition x pharmaceutical) began to emerge, they were very much tied to a utilitarian philosophy. Recall the almost brutalist simplicity and efficiency of products like Soylent.

Now available on Nextatlas, our latest Trend Report dives into the new class of healthfoods embracing a targeted, quasi-medicinal approach to self administered nutrition and healthcare.

With our year-long obsessions over wellness and personal health, these paradigms of edible healthcare are back in the spotlight. Our AI has tracked the impressive growth of terms like “immunity” and “boosting” in the Food & Beverage industry over the last year as consumers sought out health solutions in their diets.

However, while consumers are once again seeking out supercharged snacks, the brutalist solutions of old are no longer up to snuff. Modern incarnations offer not only more sophisticated and specific health benefits, but also boast a more lively, flavorful, and diverse eating experience.

The term “Boosting” in the Food & Beverage industry has grown +110% over the last 18 months

The Nutraceutical Normal

In an oddly ironic twist, being trapped in our own kitchens for a year really opened up our palettes and perspectives in terms of food. From early fascinations with baking to discovering international cuisines to eccentric TikTok recipes, modern foodies are more adventurous than ever. Alongside all this adventure and experimentation came higher expectations for the flavors, textures, and sensations available at the table.

The timeline for the Tantalizing Textures trend shows a sustained elevated interest in food’s textural qualities

Trends like Tantalizing Textures showed that curious foodies were seeking out new eating experiences by playing with sensory stimuli as tags like “crispy” and “crunchy” showed significant growth throughout the year. Soon, even huge name brands were hopping into the mix (think of McDonald’s recent Katsu McNuggets).

Moreover, the trend exhibited a particularly strong resonance with younger generations; according to our AI, Gen Z (followed by Millennials) led the bulk of the conversations. That these qualities struck a chord with a young, creative audience is no surprise; it does however suggest that this is no lockdown-related aberration. We’re witnessing a new standard for the eating experience that may diffuse through all our food choices.

Tantalizing Textures was especially popular with Gen Z

Now, through balancing the targeted promise of scifi superfoods with creative and unique eating experiences, the latest generation of nutraceutical advancement is joining these two rising tides. Just look at something like Deux’s line of functional “Good-For-You” Cookie Doughs, launched in 2020. Each flavor offers a specific health benefit through a combination of natural functional ingredients. For example, the Immunity x Chocolate Chip flavor includes elderberry, chaga, and cordyceps for targeted support. Moreover, the indulgent, joyful touch of cookie dough is a far cry from nondescript green smoothies and nutrition bars.

DEUX’s Cookie Dough line offers a functional salve to your sweet tooth

Rampant health concerns and a desire for targeted health support swung the door wide open for an emerging class of pseudo-medicinal foods blurring the lines between the supermarket and the pharmacy.

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Trend lines, data, and information described in this article emerge from the ongoing analysis performed by Nextatlas on its global observation pool made of innovators, early adopters, industry insiders expressing their views on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit.

To learn more about our AI, discover Nextatlas Methodology here

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