The pandemic has had long-reaching effects on shopping, cooking and eating habits, and even caused rediscovery of foods and beverages previously languishing behind trendier category introductions: take pretzels, for example, which have been experiencing a resurgence in popularity since the onset of the pandemic and the ensuing rise of at-home snacking. As noted in a recent Food Business News article, “According to IRI, pretzel dollar sales grew online 54% in 2019. In April, sales shot up 158%. And from May 3 to July 12, pretzels had a 101% increase in dollar sales.”

Pandemic-driven interests in pretzels are perhaps not too surprising given the fact that as a snack category lacking in innovation and largely usurped by private label, the pandemic has also prompted new product introductions encompassing global flavors, new shapes and novel ingredients. Other distinctions in innovative pretzels speak to rising consumer interests in gluten- and grain-free as well as flour with provenance. The frozen soft pretzel category has also experienced an increase in popularity as consumers are co-creating and personalizing heat-and-eat snacks to accommodate various palates within the household.

Pretzels have other positives: unlike modern extruded snacks, pretzels are rooted in nostalgia with Germanic cultural origins that are often considered a healthier snack alternative given their adaptability to a variety of eating styles and ingredient trends. And while traditional pretzels continue to sell well, flavor, ingredient and format diversity can cultivate new levels of attention for consumers seeking wellness and global flavor cues. The pretzel category encompasses multiple formats and has the ability to extend into unique ways of eating while encompassing a healthy halo that can signal a higher bar for more processed snacks to clear. In addition, their signature crunchy texture lends itself to a form of edible stress relief during these unprecedented times.

To learn more about how snacking is changing, The Hartman Group’s Snacking 2020 syndicated study applies innovative approaches to examine what snacking looks like today. Snacking 2020 seeks to learn more about current needs that motivate snacking and seeks answers to questions like: Is snacking still about the pillars of nourishment, optimization and pleasure? What snacks do consumers eat, and how are choices made differently between those working outside of their homes versus those working remotely from home? What benefits do consumers expect their snacks to deliver? 

 More information on Snacking 2020 is available here.