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 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.”
Jankowski was instrumental in developing new products at Sargento, with the Balanced Breaks line hitting shelves in 2015.
“We started working on it many years before that. We started to see a trend for consumers to snack throughout the day,” Jankowski said. They wanted it to be convenient and balanced. It was important to us that it was less than 200 calories and be a good source of protein. “.
Portia Young, the company’s director of public relations, said Balanced Breaks was one of the most successful products in the company’s history. Cheese and crackers varieties, paired with Nabisco, were added in 2021.
“We have more than 20 kinds of original, nutty and fruity, sweet, cheese and cracker varieties,” Jankowski said. “We really created a new category in the case of dairy products and filled a need that was there.”
Clement’s sausage sells well
Of course, Wisconsin is also famous for sausages. Light sausage sticks have gone viral, taking a staple of preservation to new audiences.
Laurie Wester, Vice President of Marketing at Milwaukee Clement Sausage Company He notes that total US dollar sales in the growing meat snack category are about $2.5 billion, according to AC Nielsen data from August 13. While jerky is the largest segment at 47.5%, the snack segment is driving the growth of this category. Sales of meat snacks grew by twofold.
“This growth rate is far outpacing other snacks such as chips, snack crackers, biscuits and even candy. Interesting fact: Milwaukee is a market for snacks,” Wester added via email. “Snack sticks are bigger than bacon.”
She refers to Clement declaring 2022 the “Year of Snack Sticks” and this year launched new 1-ounce meat and cheese snack sticks, large 1.87-ounce snack sticks, as well as easy-to-open 1-ounce packaging, 3.5-ounce and 7.2-ounce snack bars.
Of course, sausage and light meat options are produced by others across the state. Products that are finding fans nationwide include Usinger’s Snacks, old Wisconsin, Jack Links, Johnsonville, and simply snacks in Oshkosh.
Entrepreneurs interested in selling snacks have an advantage in Wisconsin. In 2017, the University of Wisconsin-Madison started what was apparently the world’s first such college course, a short course aimed at nutrition and snack manufacturing. The course, which will then be offered in March, is usually filled to capacity.
Olympia Granola hails from River West
One of the companies that attended the UW course is Olympia Granola Milwaukee. When AJ Girard and his wife, Dana Herdeman, moved production of Olympia granola bars and café bars from Green Bay to Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood last year, his experience with the UW-Madison program helped cement his interest in creating a product with local ingredients, including Stone Creek coffee.
“Our honey that comes from class. Our oats come from la croiss meiling, Gerard said. We didn’t want to use any syrup or anything. Each bar contains brown rice, tapioca syrup, or high fructose corn syrup. We wanted to bring it back to the roots and use 100% American Honey. There is a lot of honey that comes from China or Asia and the intermediate countries and is listed as organic. …it helps that Klass comes from Milwaukee.”
“There are a lot of manufacturers that are producing a high level of snacks and foods in general here,” Gerrard said. “People overlook Wisconsin, and they view us as a top state, but when you move in, there are a lot of companies that have operations here because our workforce is highly skilled and ready to work.”
This year, the Wisconsin State Fair highlighted that with its snack bars competition, and Olympia Granola participated. “We won third place,” Gerrard said. “We’re also part of Something Special from Wisconsin, and 27 of the 41 winners were part of that as well.”
Field focus + farmer is vegetarian
Sustainability and local ingredients are at the core field + farmssaid Isabella Shea, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the company. Field + Farmer was founded by Megan Klein, a native of the Milwaukee area and a graduate of Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.
Headquartered in the Chicago area, the company harvests from the Midwest and produces vegan dips and dressings and the latest addition to the collection: five-flavor snack bars. In August, bars were added to 101 Costco stores in the Midwest, including all Wisconsin locations. Field + Farmer snack bars are also available at Whole Foods in Wisconsin.
“We want to stay true to the goal we set ourselves, which is that we only use ingredients you know and can pronounce,” Shea said, noting that the oats come from La Crosse Milling and each product features fresh produce from Michigan, Wisconsin, or Illinois.
“All of our bars, they’ll be a sweet or dessert you’re often familiar with, carrot cake, cocoa cake, apple pie, PB&J, and peanut butter cake. Each has a fresh fruit or vegetable as the first ingredient. For a cocoa brownie, the first ingredient is beets.”
Supernola snacks start in Jackson
Cindy Boys, Founder Supernola, he sees Wisconsin as an ideal location in the world of food. Six types of Supernola snack sets are produced in Jackson.
“While the market in Wisconsin is different from other parts of the United States, such as the coasts, the environment for producing our snacks here is perfect,” Boys said. “We specialize in drying, so cold, dry winters create the perfect environment for making our dried snacks and the various products we make. Plus, there are plenty of packaging and equipment suppliers here in the state for fast local delivery that also supports the local economy.”
GLK Foods manufactures pickled vegetables
In fact, food manufacturers have long found this area to be ideal, including GLK . foods (Great Lakes Foods), headquartered in Appleton.
Sauerkraut has been a staple for the company for decades, and fermented foods have only grown in popularity. However, the biggest growth in recent years has been the company’s OhSnap! A line of pickled vegetables in bags introduced in 2015.
After 18 months of development, GLK adds pickled fruits, starting with pineapple and apple.
“They are all developed and manufactured in Wisconsin,” said GLK Foods President Ryan M. Downs, the fourth generation in the business. “We set up a new factory in 2019 for OhSnap!, and it’s really quite small.”
Innovations in snacks may have been inspired by the way Americans eat on the go for convenience, but the familiarity and flavor make a difference.
“Everyone knows what’s healthy,” Downes said. “It must taste great, or else they won’t buy it. The staple for us is (OhSnap!) Dilly Bite, and it takes something familiar. People know what pickles are, and they add comfort but there’s no mess because there’s no brine added to the bag.”
Oh snap! The pickled fruit is being rolled out, shipped to Sendik’s and eventually Target, along with their pickled vegetable line.
Mother and daughter founded GoMacro
In 2004, Jula Sonkin and her mother Amelia Kirchhoff started a vegan brand GoMacro to fill a need. Kirchhoff was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in search of a macrobiotic vegan diet, she developed the bars.
Today, their certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO and soy-free bars are distributed nationwide. In 2019, they increased their space by adding 19,200 square feet to their headquarters in Viola, Wisconsin.
Good foods create dips, spreads
As interest in vegetarian options has grown, so have the choices at Good Foods in Pleasant Prairie. Founded in 2008, the company produces vegan and avocado spreads without preservatives and with the goal of becoming a zero waste facility.
Good Foods products are available at Pick N’ Save, Target, Costco and Fresh Thyme. This year, it launched Single Serve Cups, and a dairy-free roasted garlic dip will be launching in the fall, not available in all locations yet. Determine the products available in the online store, shop.goodfoods.com.
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