Dairy producers sense opportunity in snacks. The likes of Babybel, Laughing Cow and Dairylea have all been launching cheese snacks and seizing on impulse space.

That’s because “78% of consumers believe snacking should be part of a healthy diet”, notes Babybel senior brand manager Oliver Richmond, citing the British Nutrition Foundation.

Containing both protein and calcium, cheese fits the bill, says Richmond. “It’s made the largest share gains in terms of consumers actively seeking to increase their protein consumption”, he adds, citing Kantar data for the five years to 4 September.

The appetite for cheese snacking is reflected in sales figures. Small formats are the only part of the category to see big growth, surging 6.6% to £149m on volumes up 1.6% [Kantar 52 w/e 4 September 2022].

The trend has been a while coming. In April 2021, Cathedral City expanded its snacks range with the launch of nets containing six 20g portions of its Extra Mature cheese.

Then that June, Bel launched Light Cheese, Apples & Grapes snack packs in Tesco food-to-go fixtures. And in March 2022, Ilchester rolled 24-portion nets of its Mature Cheddar, Edam and Red Leicester cheeses into Costco.

It’s not only in cheese that dairy brands are feeling snacky. Bel launched GoGo SqueeZ squeezable kids yoghurts last June, becoming one of the only non-HFSS brands within kids’ fruit snacking.

The launch allows the brand to be more versatile with marketing campaigns and placements, says senior brand manager Justine de Monès.

“The brand’s positive nutritional credentials have allowed it to be featured on aisle ends and seasonal aisles across the past year,” she adds.

Over in desserts, Nestlé Lindahls claims to be attracting health-conscious adults with two non-HFSS Protein Puddings, launched in September 2021. “From a consumer perspective, these high-protein desserts provide an indulgent taste without the sugar, fat and calories found in traditional desserts,” says a spokeswoman.

This growth is reflected on shelves, she adds. “Protein products are growing at the fastest rate and retailers are responding to this by featuring these products more prominently in-store and in marketing.”

Has HFSS made snacking more virtuous? Healthy snacking category report 2023