Popcorn Continues to Perform in Snacking Category

For a food that dates back to 3600 BCE in Mexico, there sure is an incredible amount of innovation in the popcorn category. What’s changed? Definitely not the process. Kernel + heat = popcorn. Instead, innovation has thrived in positioning and flavors. Both have evolved in ways that make one of North America’s oldest snacks as popular as ever.

Innovation also has expanded the distribution footprint of popcorn. Menu mentions of “popcorn” in foodservice are exploding, and brands such as AMC Theatres are securing shelf space for its branded popcorn in supermarkets across the country.

Popcorn has momentum as a snack today and is expected to continue to grow as long as food manufacturers give consumers what they want. Here are five opportunities to take advantage of the popcorn category through new product development.


Better-For-You Positioning

Many of the most popular popcorn brands on the market offer portions with less than 80 calories per serving. That’s a boon for consumers who want indulgent snacks without all the calories. Even better, most popcorn, even those positioned as indulgent, have clean labels. Our Agile Kitchen™ culinary team specializes in developing clean label seasonings that meet manufacturers’ clean label requirements. In fact, we also produce plant-based powders that deliver dairy flavors like cheese and butter for vegetarian and vegan popcorn.



Traditional Flavors…AMPLIFIED

The most popular popcorn flavors are pretty much what you would expect them to be: butter, white cheddar, cheddar, cheese and some combination of sweet and salty. However, recent new product development has focused on amplifying these traditional flavors with more heat and more cheese. For example:


Pushing Non-traditional Flavor Boundaries

Fruit flavors are finding their way into the popcorn aisle, giving consumers a boundary-pushing taste that’s unexpected in the category. Popcornopolis’ Jalapeno Lime popcorn combines trending citrus flavors with heat in a clean label ingredient that touts no artificial ingredients on the label. We expect the use of citrus and heat in popcorn to continue its growth. Our culinary team has been innovating a variety of fruit plus dairy plus heat combinations, using our line of citrus powders and dairy seasoning blends.

In addition to fruit flavors, popcorn manufacturers also are pushing boundaries with popular indulgent treats translated to the popcorn category. We loved Smartfood’s Chocolate Glazed Donut popcorn for its flavor and ability to position popcorn in a new way.



Brand Collaborations

Mashups of popular brands are thriving as social media’s influence on snacking continues to grow. If it plays well on TikTok, it’s most likely going to play well in online or supermarket sales. A few of our favorite collaborations in the past year include:



Snacking, Snacking, Snacking

Americans’ love of snacking has continued to drive the food industry, including the snacking category. Although it shows no sign of slowing, the category is evolving. When developing new popcorn products consider the following:


The popcorn category is popping, and Bluegrass Ingredients is your partner in dairy seasoning blends, citrus powders and plant-based powders. Contact us today to start developing a new popcorn product.

Contact us today to get started!

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