Clean Label Snacks are on the Rise!

Icon Foods Clean Label Snacks are on the Rise

Why adhere to three square meals a day when you could opt for snacking instead?

According to Mondelez International’s Fifth Annual State of Snacking report, a significant majority—6 out of 10 consumers surveyed over the past five years—express a preference for frequent, smaller meals throughout the day over the traditional three-meal structure (3).

Indeed, snacking has entrenched itself as a daily ritual for nearly nine out of every ten global consumers, with 60% indulging in snacks twice daily. Among younger demographics, the embrace of snacking is even more pronounced. A staggering 94% of Gen Z and Millennials incorporate snacking into their daily routines, with over two-thirds snacking at least twice a day and one-third enjoying three or more snacks daily (3).

In North America, the motivation behind snacking extends beyond mere hunger pangs. “Nutritional needs” tops the list of reasons, followed by desires to “boost mood” and “stay energized” (3). This emphasis on nutrition has spurred a surge in demand for food and beverage products boasting a clean label claim. Though the concept of clean label lacks a precise definition, it generally signifies products featuring ingredients that are recognizable and perceived as wholesome by consumers. Shoppers are increasingly turning to product labels in their quest for such offerings, with 43% of global consumers inspecting ingredient lists while perusing store aisles (2). Specifically in America, “consumers are proactively looking for products that are minimally processed and contain recognizable ingredients,” even in categories that are traditionally ‘unhealthy’ (5). When surveying 1,910 Americans who had eaten chips in the past three months, 24% said they look for chip options with all-natural ingredients (5). Additionally, 74% of cracker consumers in the US say they prefer to buy crackers with ingredients they recognize (4). Even sweet biscuit and cookie brands are highlighting short ingredients lists (4)!



The rising emphasis on nutritional requirements is driving the expansion of snacks within the functional nutrition realm. This trend isn’t confined to one region—”42% of global consumers snack to take care of their body and nutritional needs” (2). Among the primary health objectives, they’re targeting “support for brain, gut, heart and bone health, improving immunity, and more general age- and gender-related health benefits” (2).

Consumers increasingly seeking snacks that cater to these specific health functions seem to reflect a growing awareness of the intrinsic connection between diet and well-being. This shift in consumer preferences has led to a surge in demand for innovative snack options that not only satisfy cravings but also offer tangible health benefits.

A recent Mintel survey supports these findings. In Asia, “the high/added fibre and protein claims have been steadily climbing in salty snack and fruit mix launches” (5). While in Australia & New Zealand, vegan and plant-based salty snack brands have been highlighting protein content (5). In America, Mintel finds that “snacks that have additional better-for-you qualities will appeal to the 35% of snack consumers who consider the nutritional content when buying snacks” (5).



Despite rising concern over the price of cocoa, chocolate remains a constant snacking want for consumers. “82% of global consumers surveyed agree, ‘chocolate is good for the soul’” while 57% say they would rather give up social media for a month rather than chocolate. In a true testament it’s power, 72% of those surveyed “fear that a ‘world without chocolate would be a world without joy’” (3). This sentiment is consistent across generations and regions.

Chocolate as a flavor is also trending. “Double chocolate, chocolate chip, and chocolate chip cookie dough and dark chocolate are all trending in 2024 as are marshmallow, strawberry, caramel, coconut, blueberry, and vanilla” (1). The balance between indulgence, chocolate, and clean label seems to be a winning combination!

Zero sugar added chocolate & fruit piece inclusions are an easy way to add such indulgence, while adding texture and increasing visual appeal.



The landscape of snacking is evolving, driven by a shift towards frequent, smaller meals and a focus on functional nutrition. Consumers are increasingly seeking snacks that not only satisfy cravings but also offer tangible health benefits. As innovation continues to flourish in the snack industry, with an emphasis on clean labels, it’s clear that snacking habits will continue to adapt to meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers worldwide.

Further, the distinction between truly clean label snacks and those merely marketed as such will become even more stark with the enactment of the FDA’s TRUTH in Labelling Act. Introduced to Congress in December 2023, the Transparency, Readability, Understandability, Truth, and Helpfulness (TRUTH) in Labeling Act would mandate the FDA create new front-of-package labels for food and beverage items. If approved in its current form, manufacturers will need to highlight added sugar, sodium, and saturated fat levels on the front of product packaging within a three-year timeframe.

Icon Foods is uniquely positioned to help food manufacturers adapt to new consumer standards with our line of sweeteners and fibers designed to make deep clean cuts in added sugar. Additionally, Icon Foods chocolate chips, coatings, and candies are zero sugar added with no compromise on flavor or mouthfeel. Non-GMO and made with diabetic-friendly sweeteners, they add flavor and texture to applications while driving down water activity. Our chocolate stock is ample! Contact our team today for samples and spec sheets!



  1. Gelski, Jeff. “Snack Flavors Keep Indulgence in Demand.” Baking Business, Baking Business, 14 May 2024,
  2. “State of Snacking: Future Trends.” Mondelez International, 2023,
  3. “The Fifth Annual State of Snacking.” Mondelez International, 2023,
  4. Kaczorowski, Mikolaj. “A Year of Innovation in Biscuits, Cookies and Crackers, 2024.” Mintel, 15 Mar. 2024,
  5. Kaczorowski, Mikolaj. “A Year of Innovation in Salty Snacks and Fruit Mixes, 2024.” Mintel, 29 Apr. 2024,

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