Dana Herdman and her husband, A.J. Gerrard, make Olympia Granola Bars.

Healthy snacks and high protein options are thriving for Wisconsin businesses

Christine M

Snack season may coincide with school and sports for some families, but for a growing number of us, snacks and small meals are the new normal.

If you grew up in a world where there are no snacks between meals, or your family sat down to dinner together every night, you might be surprised. The appetite for snacks has grown, and consumers are choosing smaller, healthier meals and snacks.

Data from ACNielsen shows that 31% of consumers eat three to four snacks per day, and 14% consume five or more snacks per day.

Consumers still eat chips, crackers, and candy, but a segment of people are hungry for vegan, gluten-free, keto, protein, or a sustainable option on the go. Producers responded.

Innovations in packaging and manufacturing have improved the convenience of these grab-and-go options, and a number of them begin here in Wisconsin.

Sargento, based in Plymouth, Wisconsin, partners with Nabisco in their Balanced Breaks snack line.  This one has pepper jack and Colby jack cheese.

Sargento specializes in cheese

I recommend Sargento, which has been innovating since 1953 in the cheese capital of Plymouth, where in the 1920s cheese was traded as a commodity. The company began offering shredded and rolled cheese in the mid-1980s. Today its innovations occupy new space in the refrigerated case.

Kristi Jankowski, Executive Vice President of Innovation, said: “Cheese is one of the most versatile snacks available, and truly the best choice for different occasions. Our customers say they want to eat it in the morning, afternoon and on the go. There is only one other category that fits into that and that is fruit.”

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