It seems the nutritionists have finally won.
People across the world spurned snacking last year, when the global snack industry grew by just 1.7 per cent in retail value terms. This was the slowest rate of growth posted since 2008, according to data from Euromonitor International.
However, Euromonitor forecasts the industry will return to more than two per cent annual growth from 2017 onwards.
"Sizeable economic and political woes" in three of the largest snacking markets in Latin America – Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela – drove down growth in the region in 2015, which was only 0.3 per cent.
Snacking also levelled off in China, where an economic slowdown pushed down demand for in-between meal nibbles.
Confectionery, the largest sector within snacks, grew by the smallest amount at only one per cent. Although chocolate confectionery delivered decent growth of two per cent, sugar confectionery sales "barely registered anything positive" and gum sales continued to decline.
Meanwhile, in developed markets, the healthy snacking trend continued to take off . Processed fruit snacks and fruit and nut bars were one of the areas that registered healthy growth.
Brands such as the KIND bar in the US and the Nakd bar in the UK were labelled a "game changer" for their clean label approach to marketing their products to consumers.
Lamine Lahouasnia, head of packaged food at Euromonitor International, said:
With sweet snacks such as confectionery continually linked by the media to childhood obesity and other diseases, consumers are increasingly aware of their own recommended sugar intake levels and what sweet snacks contribute to that.
This has proven to be one of the biggest barriers to growth for sweet snacks categories in developed markets.
The future for the snacks industry looks much brighter than the present, with growth expected to return to two per cent plus a year from 2017 onwards.
This recovery will be driven by a return to stability in Latin America and an expected rebound in growth within the Chinese market, which has been creating a considerable lag on world growth. In emerging markets, we should expect improved snacks distribution to aid growth. In developed markets, the shift towards higher end, 'naturally healthier' alternative snacks should deliver greater value for brands.