The international market for dairy snacks, such as cheese strings and yogurt tubes, grew by 7% in 2009 and is heading for a 6% rise this year. The first major study on this sector, by leading food and drink consultancy Zenith International, estimates total volume at 217,000 tonnes in 2010 across 26 countries in North America, Latin America, West Europe, East Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
Currently, the majority of dairy snack products are cheese-based and targeted at children. In some countries, however, manufacturers are increasingly looking at innovations for adults. Although many dairy snacks are designed to be eaten on the move, some recent launches have been designed for at-home snacking, reflecting continuing changes in consumer eating habits.
Of the total dairy snack volume identified in 2009, the US accounted for almost two-thirds. The UK was the second largest market, with other key countries including France, Canada, Germany and Japan. The most developed regions are North America, West Europe and Australasia, with Latin America and East Europe presenting the next opportunities for companies to be first to market.
The most successful dairy snack products have come from leading international players in the overall dairy market, who command brand recognition and marketing power. Key players and brands include Bel with Mini Babybel, Kraft with Dairylea, and Yoplait yogurt tubes. In countries where dairy snacks have been available for longer and are more established, retailer private labels have been introduced, but these have yet to make a material impact.
“Dairy snacks, although a relatively recent phenomenon, have firmly established themselves as an important segment within both the dairy market and the wider market for snacks,” comments Zenith market analyst Laura Knight. “As modern on-the-go lifestyles have left consumers time poor, many people are increasingly looking for a convenient snack that delivers on health and nutrition, also one that tastes good and provides a pleasurable eating experience. Dairy snacks are well placed to meet these consumer demands and manufacturers have begun to capitalise on the opportunity this presents.”
Although dairy snacks are undeveloped as a snack segment, compared to more traditional snacking foods such as crisps and bars, it is clear that there is considerable long term potential for the market and Zenith expects the market to reach over 260,000 tonnes by 2014.