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The line between meals and snacks continues to blur. Hectic lifestyles and health and wellness trends combine to drive shifts in eating patterns. Consumers demand nutritious, filling morning and afternoon snacks to fuel them throughout the day while enabling them to maintain a healthy diet. The snacking occasion market value has grown to more than $90 billion in the United States alone.1

The possibilities for creating innovative snacks with healthy profiles to help consumers overcome mid-morning, mid-afternoon or late-night cravings are seemingly limitless. Snack formulators count on dairy ingredients like cheeses, whey proteins and yogurt to provide functional benefits as well as the overall consumer health halo perception.  

Dairy ingredients and products from the United States help product developers keep on-trend with innovation in snacks. Learn more about U.S. dairy products in the Product Section

Snacking Trends

SnacksSavory, salty applications lead new product development in the snack category, followed by snack nuts and seed. More than half (53%) of global snack launches in 2013 featured savory and salty flavor profiles, followed by snack nuts and seeds at 32%.2 

Consumers seek quick nutrition to meet health and wellness needs, but also demand taste and texture. The same focus on health provides opportunities for reduced sodium snacks. The on-the-go nature of snack consumption also demands convenience.  

Taste and Texture

Steady growth of snack consumption between meals or to augment small meals provides new opportunities for innovative product formulations that provide great-tasting, nutritious and convenient options. Whether sweet or savory, flavor and texture matter; consumers won't compromise, even for nutritional benefits.  

Snack product formulators can help prompt consumers to try new options with use of familiar ingredients like cheese, yogurt and whey proteins. Cheese flavor and functionality can be tailored to specific applications, including reduced-fat and low-sodium options. Yogurt and yogurt powders fortify snacks with nutrients while providing consumer-friendly flavoring. In addition to flavor, whey proteins add a variety of functional benefits, including browning, emulsion, shelf-life and texture.  

Reduced Sodium Snacks

Health and wellness trends include a focus on snacks positioned as lower-sodium alternatives. Health professionals around the world prefer food formulations that are low in sodium, and the link between high sodium intake and potential health risks gives added appeal to convenient low-sodium options.3   

Processed and prepared foods make up roughly 77% of U.S. consumer sodium intake.3 Nearly one-third of U.S. consumers strive to reduce or avoid sodium and two-thirds (65%) state some concern about sodium intake.3 Developers of snack products find dairy permeates offer an alternative to salt that does not sacrifice taste.  


The need for ultra-convenient single-serve products that are at least somewhat healthy continues.4 To fit today's busy consumer lifestyles, snacks must be quick to prepare and portable. Multitasking is common during snacks-as-meals. Families with activity-packed lives that require eating on the run make grab-and-go options a critical eating strategy for many.4 Dairy ingredients can help create the taste and nutritional credentials of go-to convenient snacks that will have consumers coming back for more.   


Dairy ingredients from the United States provide snack products with flavor, function and nutrition. The chart below illustrates the common benefits dairy ingredients offer.

 Cheese (Details)Milk Protein Conc.(Details)Sweet Whey(Details)Whey Permeate(Details)Whey Proteins(Details)Yogurt(Details)
Appearance   yes yes   yes  
Aroma         yes  
Browning       yes yes  
Emulsion         yes  
Flavor yes yes yes   yes yes
Heat Stability         yes  
Melt & Flow yes          
Nutrient Fortification   yes yes   yes yes
Shelf-life         yes  
Sodium Reduction       yes    
Stretch yes          
Texture         yes  
  Cheese Details Milk Proteins Details Whey Details Permeates Details Whey Details

Formulas & Recipes

Access U.S. Dairy Export Council prototype formulations for inspiration on making ordinary snacks extraordinary with U.S. Dairy, including developing sweet and savory snacks.

Pandan Sesame Cookies

Pandan Sesame Cookies

Enjoy these fragrant and crispy pandan sesame cookies that will make a lovely accompaniment to your afternoon tea.


Pistachio Cranberry Sugee Cookies

Pistachio Cranberry Sugee Cookies

Enjoy this simple but elegant concoction that exudes freshness of cranberries and pistachio nuts.


Pandan Lotus High Protein Mooncakes

Pandan Lotus High Protein Mooncakes

Fortified with quality U.S. Dairy protein, these fragrant seasonal treats are best paired with a cup of Chinese tea.


Resources & Insights

Looking for further innovation ideas and technical support? Download the resources below for more information on developing snack applications with U.S. Dairy.

Cheese and Healthy Eating

Cheese can fit into almost any eating plan. This brochure provides statistics, facts and nutrition information on cheese and how it can help meet health and wellness needs.

Applications Monograph: U.S. Whey Products in Snacks

From flavor to function, learn about the benefits whey offers to snack applications.

Using Dairy Ingredients to Reduce Sodium in Snacks

Learn how dairy ingredients help formulate products with no added salt.

1Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Get your share of snack time, 2010.
2Innova Database. Snack Nuts and Seeds. April 2014.
3Cheese and Sodium Snapshot, IC, slide 4.
412 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2014. November 2013.