Jun 27 2022

Healthy Spanish Snacks: Success Stories in a Bite

Guilt-free snacking is in style: companies that produce nuts, granola, and pickled products are exporting quality and innovation: an irresistible mix!

Snacking between meals is no longer considered a sin (or at least one that can affect your health). Healthy, light, and functional snacks are taking the place of milk chocolate bars, pastries, potato chips and other, similar products with too much salt and MSG. According to a study by market research firm Fortune Business Insights, the data is clear: The global healthy snack market was valued at $78.13 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $108.11 billion by 2027. Moreover, it has seen nothing but steady growth since 2016.

Spain is one of the countries that's contributing the guilt-free snacking trend. Strongly established industries such as nuts and pickled foods are also playing a part, as well as new companies that have been able to leverage global trends to create unique products. This is true of La Newyorkina, a company created by Pelayo Pérez, an Asturian who had the idea of creating his own granola after a trip to New York, hence the name of the company. His formula has been a success: "We sell our products in France, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines..." explains Pérez.

Granola La Newyorkina

The success of their grain mixes has been "to use Spanish products whenever possible: the honey we use is from Asturias and the olive oil is also from Spain, as are the rolled oats." The second key to their success is their controlled production process in the capital of Asturias, Oviedo, which is carried out in the most traditional way possible.
A third element that explains the popularity of this small company is its very attractive packaging, which has also helped them consolidate their product.

But they're not resting on their laurels either; they continue to delve deeper into the world of healthy snacks. "We're committed to R&D and our most recent launch is porridge that cooks on its own overnight in the fridge. We prepare it with very simple ingredients: just oats, seeds, and fruit powder. It makes it easy to have a breakfast that is rich in protein and fiber. People tend to create an imbalance in their diet with breakfast, and we wanted to change that," says La Newyorkina's CEO.

Pickled cucumbers, impossible flavors and Michelin stars

More traditional industries such as pickled products (pickled cucumbers and spring onions, olives, etc.) are also showing a surprising capacity to adapt to changing times and new consumer profiles. Agrucapers, a company created in Murcia in 1968, launched an unusual line focused on children —called Sabores Kids—just before the pandemic. It comprises banana- and strawberry-flavored pickles and cola-flavored spring onions. "The idea came to me at a birthday party I was at, when I saw how children were gorging themselves on unhealthy products full of additives. I thought I could offer them a healthier alternative," recalls José Manuel Pelegrín, the company's manager.

They were not alone in developing these surprising snacks: they had the help of twelve Michelin-starred chef Martín Berasategui. Pelegrín says that the Basque chef's work has been crucial: "Martín has helped us from an organoleptic standpoint. All our products are healthy and full of antioxidants, but we also wanted them to have the best possible flavor without artificial additives. In the end, we developed a product that's innovative and, in terms of quality and flavor, is among the best on the market."

Pickles Agrucapers

Despite the pandemic, Agrucapers has managed to sell its pickles with innovative flavors in countries such as the United States and Australia. "They're the perfect snack for children, which was the initial approach, but we have also come across interesting applications, such as that of an establishment in Las Vegas where they're being used for cocktails," says Pelegrín, who is both surprised and proud.

The success of dried fruit and nut mixes

The Fortune Business Insights study also indicates that the most consumed product within this category is nuts, seeds, and trail mixes, accounting for 44.91% of the total. This category includes companies such as Medina Frutos Secos, which has grown from a small churrería in Madrid to a company that now sells almonds, pistachios, cashews, trail mixes (peeled nuts, almonds, cashews), and dried apricots, among other products.

"Spain is a major producer of almonds and pistachios, and we have an organic certification that  is valid throughout Europe. We don't consider this an added benefit; it's simply part of our quality process," the brand says.

Medina frutos secos

Medina's raw products are certified by Madrid's Organic Agriculture Committee, which "opens doors internationally, as it is recognized in most of the world." The company adds that "organic products are increasingly popular and consumers are looking for different formats (for stores, vending machines, HoReCa, i.e. hotels/restaurants/cafes).

Medina's nuts are sold in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands... In addition to its quality processes and organic certification, the key to the company's success is "the price, the variety, and the flexibility, which adapt to the specific needs of each consumer." And the certainty that every time someone opens a bag of mixed raw nuts, granola, or pickled products, someone is eating a healthy snack.

Author: Javier Sánchez/ @ICEX