In Sweden, one of the most traditional and common snacks between meals is the “macka” – a slice of bread with butter and a choice of spread – sliced cheese, soft cheese, ham or paté. Swedes still love their macka with coffee, at home or in a café. On-the-go and between meals, however, raw food bars, protein-boosted smoothies, natural drinks with chia, nuts, fibre-rich dried fruit and sugar-free chocolates have become the new preferences fo many a health-obsessed Swede.
Sweden’s second-largest food retailer, Axfood, has seen a steady growth of the segment healthy snacks for the past three years, reaching 11 percent by q3 2019 compared to the same period 2018. The trend shows no signs of slowing down. In company Selectas’ vending machines, found throughout the Stockholm Underground, sales of healthy snacks have increased by 11 percent only in the past year.
The worldwide healthy snacks market is expected to reach USD 40.7 billion by 2026, and Europe accounts for the largest share, according to MarketWatch.
Consumers’ growing obsession with health, sustainability and well-being, paired with a highly innovative business climate, make Sweden a leading market in this field.
Niclas Luthman, co-founder of Sweden’s Nick’s brand of sugar-free snacks, sees a high growth potential among Swedish producers of healthy snacks.
“Sweden is definitely at the forefront,” he says. “Just look at Barebells, Färsking, Rå (Wellnox) and so on. There is lots of solid innovation here, and consumers are starting to embrace food technology for all the right reasons”.
The main driver in healthier snacks is first and foremost lower sugar content, he says. “That’s number one. Good old calories are probably number two.”
Looking at some of the most exciting products already on the Swedish market, it’s evident consumers are seeking snacks based on fruit and vegetables, with high protein, fibre and added vitamin content. And they want them organic. According to research company Mintel, “organic” is the number one added value for European consumers when they get to choose from values such as vegan, gluten free, no added sugar or high fibre.
Maria Hauffman is Market and innovations manager at Saltå Kvarn, a company that recently launched a selection of healthy, fibre-boosted organic snacks consisting of 100 percent fruit, and roasted coconut. “From a consumer perspective, we see a distinct increase in healthy snacking,” she says. “The trend is driven by the fact that Swedes are very health-conscious. They want snacks with no added sugar that are high in fibre.”
In Sweden, especially in the capital Stockholm, many consumers are concerned with “living LOHAS” (a Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability). They don’t want to have to choose between health, sustainability and pleasure – they want it all, and the healthy snacks market is ready to serve them.
“Consumers want a snack to replace what used to consist of crisps and candy, that you eat because you have a craving, but they don’t want calories and they don’t want sugar,” Hauffman says.