Demand for snacks that are high in protein, low in sugar and/or carbohydrates, natural, and portable, is shining a spotlight on meat snacks, a segment uniquely positioned to fill this need. In the US and UK, retail sales of meat snacks have posted growth of over 50% (respectively) between 2011 and 2016, according to Mintel estimates. This once additive laden snack has undergone a transformation, and many brands now offer products that are made from grass-fed animals that are nitrite-free and flavoured with natural, sophisticated ingredients. Meat snack innovation in the UK From L to R: Fori Devour & Conquer Thai Turkey Snack with Chia Seeds & Lemongrass, Stript Snacks Cracked Black Pepper Steak Snack Opportunity for natural, low sugar, high protein snacks The meat snacks category in Australia has yet to experience the growth in popularity that has occurred in other Western markets like the US and UK. Brands that are currently present largely serve traditional niche segments for jerky, such as campers and hikers, and the bar/pub channel. There are a few small biltong brands that cater to the small community of ex-South Africans as well. Australian meat snacks From L to R: Mariani Kangaroo Game Jerky, The Biltong Man Teriyaki Beef Biltong However, Australia will likely see growth in this category in the near future. The consumer trends that have contributed to the growth of meat snacks in the US and UK are also prevalent down under. High protein food and drink is well-developed in the market, and nearly one in five metro Australians report seeking snacks that are high in protein, according to Mintel research. Also boding well for meat snacks, 50% of metro Australian consumers say they prefer to get their protein from natural food sources such as meat, nuts and eggs. Other diets supportive of high protein consumption, such as the paleo diet, are well-established in Australia. In fact, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), Australia was the fourth largest global market for paleo-friendly food and drink product innovation over the twelve months to April 2017. It is also a known fact that Australians are prolific meat eaters. Despite this, Australia has a low penetration of meat snacks. According to findings from Mintel, not even a tenth of urban Australians report snacking on meat snacks like jerky, for instance. Meat snack brands need to target new users While there seems to be low pick up among Australian consumers for meat snacks at this point in time, there are signs that this snack type will take off. Indeed, a number of small start-ups that pride themselves on quality and provenance are already being publicised in the media. However, these selling points will only go so far in growing the consumption of meat snacks; it is important that brands attract new users to the category. For example, there is an opportunity for meat snacks to play a key role in performance nutrition. In markets like the US or UK, users of performance nutrition products have embraced meat snacks as a source of ‘clean’ protein, and so it is likely Australians will do the same. Jodie Minotto is Research Manager, Mintel Food and Drink, Asia Pacific. She has more than 13 years of experience in sales, marketing and market research roles, predominantly in the food and beverage industry, working for both global CPG companies and SMEs. Her expertise lies in the dairy, confectionery, meal solutions, snack foods, beer and wine categories. You might also be interested in: New products spotlight: Meat snacks Cheese snacks pursue a high-protein angle Thai C-stores rise as conduit for fruit and vegetable snacks Is it crunch time for the aperitif moment?