Honey’s Twist on the Pretzel Industry

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Americans are snacking during every occasion and every part of the day. The category is booming — with the competitive edge going to the product developer who can meet consumer cravings for snacks with a twist.

Consumers are clamoring for nostalgic brands that are providing something new, and the pretzel gives us a beloved product that is both familiar and innovative. Honey is also a familiar ingredient, and the pretzel-honey combination is trending for a number of reasons:

Gourmet Pretzels: Over the years, the pretzel market has seen a surge in gourmet and flavored pretzels. These pretzels come in various flavors, from sweet to savory. Honey-glazed or honey-infused pretzels easily fit within this gourmet trend.

Healthy Snacking: Honey is an all-natural sweetener that is part of the health-focused trend where consumers look for snacks with less guilt. High protein and gluten-free labels, and companies committed to sustainability are gaining steam.

Sweet and Salty Combo: The combination of sweet and salty flavors has always been popular. Pretzels, with their inherent saltiness paired with the sweetness of honey, strikes an appealing balance, and we can expect to see more unexpected flavor combinations in the future. Limited edition flavors and unusual shapes and designs branching off from the traditional twist are also striking a chord with consumers.

Grab-and-Go: From back to school to overall convenience to a lower price point, consumers are looking for snacks that fit into daily habits and activities. Despite rising costs, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery reported U.S. snackers “bought more pretzels over the last year than the 12-month period before.” Expectations are that number — amounting to $2.2 billion — will rise in the pretzel category.

The pretzel surge:

  • Consumers remain dedicated to core products but they also like to try new things; salty snacks are still king, but consumers want to enjoy something that’s going to wow them.
  • At-home snacking is a key driver, where consumers are looking for adventure in a comforting environment. The pretzel category boasts a household penetration of 59%.
  • Expect better-for-you to grow in pretzels. Lower carbs, increases in fiber and protein, and more nutritious sweeteners like honey will lead the charge.

Justin Spannuth, chief operating officer of Unique Snacks, told SFWB: “There is room for pretzel products that could offer the usual excellent taste/texture experience but perhaps without as many carbs. New flavors embracing global cuisine profiles is really on-trend as well as companies trying to find ways to become sustainable in many ways, including products promoting a reduction in food waste or reduction in resources to grow and produce.”

A few made-with-honey pretzel snacks are leading the charge:

Thai Honey Curry Pretzel Sticks, Pop Daddy Pretzels

Bold pretzel sticks made with honey and curry seasoning. With the use of spicy, rich, earthy and diversely pungent ingredients, Thai Honey Curry’s product developers have balanced honey with the spicy rich flavors perfectly. Inspired by global flavors, this gourmet hand-seasoned pretzel mix is not to be missed.

Photo Credit: Pop Daddy Pretzels
Photo Credit: Elephant

Baked Squeezed Pretzels Honey Mustard & Onion, Elephant

This product offers a surprising taste of sweet and sour flavors in packaging displaying the iconic honey dipper. Elephant’s product is baked, not fried, positioning itself as a better-for-you appeal to consumers.

Honey Mustard Puffzels, Unique Snacks

Sweet and savory from beginning to end, Puffzels are made with honey and whole grains, and they’re gluten-free. The light, puffed pretzel innovation makes this product own up to its name — truly unique.

Sweet and savory from beginning to end, Puffzels are made with honey and whole grains, and they’re gluten-free. The light, puffed pretzel innovation makes this product own up to its name — truly unique.

Photo Credit: Unique Snacks
Photo Credit: Dot's Homestyle Pretzels

Honey Mustard Seasoned Pretzel Twists, Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels

Dot’s sales increase for SFWB’s reporting period was third in the U.S., amounting to $328 (32.6%), thanks to tangy honey mustard mixed with lightly salted seasoning. The twisted sticks are crispy, crunchy and craveable.

Honey Mustard Cheese & Pretzel Bites, Whisps Cheese Crisps

Whisps took two of America’s favorite snacks — pretzels and bites — and combined them into a unique, satisfying treat. Honey sweetens 100% artisanal real cheese in the bites, which provide 6 grams of protein per serving.

Photo Credit: Whisps Cheese Crisps

Formulating the next great pretzel with honey? Let us know your twisty thoughts at [email protected].