Snack brands target women’s unique needs across life stages with functional products

The snacks category is seeing an influx of functional products targeting the distinctive needs of women, from hormone health to immunity to skin health.

Rachel French, Contributing writer

May 10, 2024

3 Min Read
woman holding snack bar

At a Glance

  • Snack companies are tailoring products to address various women’s health concerns throughout life stages.
  • Consumer interest in hormone health, particularly in menopause support, has surged.
  • Beyond hormone health, snacks are formulated with functional ingredients to address immunity, skin health, weight management.

Fertility, menopause, libido and immunity are just a few of the ways snacks are targeting the unique needs of women.

“CPG (consumer product goods) brands have adapted to cater to women’s needs across different life stages, offering products tailored for PMS, libido, fertility, perimenopause and menopause, as well as solutions for skin/hair/nails, bone health, digestion and mood support,” Laura Harper, marketing associate at Imbibe, a beverage development company, said.

Specifically, hormone health and menopause have seen sharp increases in consumer interest. In fact, hormone health has seen a whopping 118% increase in food and beverage conversations in the past two years, according to Tastewise’s Top Ingredient and Flavor Trends for 2024. Similarly, women’s reproductive health has seen a 14% increase, per the report.

According to Imbibe, such ingredients as maca (Lepidium meyenii), oolong tea (Camellia sinensis) and horny goat weed (Epimedium) are increasingly appearing in products to support the various areas of women’s hormone health. Often, products designed to support women’s hormone health are appearing in the sweet category, per Imbibe. These include products for PMS, libido, lactation and menopause.

“We’re seeing some movement with ingredients that support increased libido — ingredients like horny goat weed, maca and damiana (Turnera diffusa), which we attribute partly to the fact that Gen Zers are having less sex,” Harper said. She cited UCLA’s California Health Interview Survey that showed 38% of Gen Zers aren’t engaging in sex or achieving other adult milestones. Further, the report identified potential factors driving this development: social media influence and the lingering effects of Covid-19.

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“Many in this group might turn to some kind of supplementation to address this issue,” Harper added.

Other functional areas of interest for women, according to Imbibe’s 2023 Functional Beverage Survey, include immunity support (50%), healthy skin and nails (49%), hydration (47%) and weight loss (42%).

“Functional ingredients addressing these needs range from elderberry (Sambucus) and curcumin (Curcuma) for immunity to collagen, biotin and hyaluronic acid for healthy skin and nails,” Harper said. Other ingredients like potassium, magnesium and calcium are also used for hydration snacks like Nature’s Truth Electrolyte Hydration Gummies, as well as apple cider vinegar, guarana (Paullinia cupana), glucomannan and L-carnitine for appetite suppressant and weight loss products, she added.

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Women’s snacks formats, flavors

According to Harper, sweet snacks — chocolate, ice cream, cookies, bars and gummies — are among the most popular formats for innovation with functional products for women.

“Though there’s certainly room for salty, or sweet and salty (sometimes called swavory), and sweet heat, depending on what lifecycle phase a consumer is in, as sweet heat might not pair best with hot flashes,” Harper said.

According to an Imbibe flavorist, the company fields “diverse wellness requests, with flavors spanning from mainstream fruit combinations to adventurous blends incorporating herbs or floral notes like basil, ginger, turmeric and hibiscus. This category explores a wide range of flavor options, typically favoring blends over single flavors.”

About the Author(s)

Rachel French

Contributing writer

Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI.

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