In a recent blog post, Ayisha Koyenikan, global food and drinks analyst at Mintel, said: “Snacking before bed isn't ideal, but when late night cravings kick in, it's just impossible to resist. This highlights an untapped opportunity to develop more nighttime products that can add an element of calm and relaxation through consumption – and biscuits are well positioned to fit into this category.”
Speaking to NutraIngredients-LATAM, Koyenikan said functional nighttime biscuits would slot well into current consumer trends.
“Eating biscuits at night is by no means a new notion, and so bedtime biscuit concepts are building on existing consumer behavior. Whilst more popular among younger consumers who tend to be heavier snackers in general, all age groups indulge in late night biscuit munching,” she said.
Consumers were also increasingly interested in eating functional foods that delivered physical or mental benefits over and above satiation and nutrition, she added.
Guilt-free nighttime snacking?
Koyenikan showed two strong examples where food firms were already targeting nighttime snacking in Latin America: Kellogg in Mexico with its All-Bran Apple Crunch Wheat Flakes, claiming improved digestion, and Brazilian snack specialist B.eat with its Peaceful Night fruit snack mix, claiming calming effects before sleep.
Asked what consumers were looking for in a nighttime snack, she said: “Interestingly, in different markets this varies.”
In Brazil, for example, consumers did not want to feel guilty about nighttime snacks, she said. Brazilian consumers' top three attributes for an evening snack were: light (46%), healthy (36%) and filling (31%), according to Mintel data.
In the US, by contrast, Koyenikan said consumers tended to look for comfort and sweetness - “health is not front of mind”. US consumers' top three attributes for an evening snack were: sweet (33%), indulgent (27%) and filling (24%); healthy rated in fifth place with 22% of consumers citing this as important.
“The optimum position for a nighttime snack product lies somewhere between these two different attitudes,” Koyenikan said.
“Whilst health is definitely important, bedtime snacks should not solely rely on a 'better-for-you' positioning to entice consumers. They must also demonstrate that they deliver in terms of taste and texture, to satisfy those late night cravings.”
In terms of health claims, she said consumers would generally be looking for products that helped them unwind after a long day, so claims around sleeping better, calming down before bed and restoring the body overnight would “stand out”.
A product with such claims and positioning, she said, should appeal to the 38% of Brazilian consumers interested in snacks made with ingredients “to benefit emotional health”.
Botanicals, CBD and dog-inspiration
Koyenikan said industry could draw inspiration from the pet food sector, where dog bedtime biscuits had already been developed. UK firm Lily's Kitchen, for example, made dog biscuits with a blend of probiotic yogurt, honey, passion flowers and chamomile claiming to help calm dogs and assist a good night's sleep.
Use of botanicals presented strong opportunities in bedtime biscuits for humans, she said, given these ingredients resonated well with consumers and also enabled formulations with lower sugar levels.
Cannabidiol or CBD could be another way forward when developing functional nighttime biscuits, Koyenikan said, given its therapeutic and relaxing properties.
CBD regulations across Latin America differ greatly. In Brazil, use is currently limited to medical use only and in Mexico – considered exceptional in its move to allow cannabis and its derivatives in food and food supplements – the recent revocation of guidelines means the market is in standby mode.