It’s been just over 10 years since Graze arrived on the UK snack scene. At the time, it was 100% online and one of the early pioneers of the mainstream healthy snack. Everything was delivered to customers’ doors in innovative boxes, with these customers quickly becoming the bedrock of the entire operation.
This consumer community (Grazers, as they’re known) consistently provides the Graze team with feedback on products, enabling them to tweak existing recipes, spot upcoming trends and formulate on-point snack prototypes.
With the successful entry into the US market and also into bricks-and-mortar retail (as well as their big money sale to Unilever at the beginning of the year), Graze has consolidated itself as one of the major players in the global healthy snacking category.
But despite the changes and evolution, the Grazers’ input remains quite the advantage for NPD.
“Consumer perception on health is ever-changing, and with it, so is the concept of food consumption,” Pia Villa, chief brand officer, tells Food Spark
“More people are looking towards healthy snack options, but the vast majority of people only really adopt healthy eating habits if the products are enjoyable. At Graze, we’re constantly reimagining snacking to go hand in hand with these lifestyle changes.
“And our subscribers play a big part in this process.”
Graze sends its subscribers prototypes following the concept and product development stages. This process can take from a couple of weeks to two to three months, with consumer feedback used to perfect recipes and gauge wider appeal.
Sometimes, it’s used to adjust existing products.
“We recently picked up from feedback that some of our consumers found our Veggie Protein Power [a mixed pack of black pepper cashews, edamame beans and spicy chickpeas] a little too spicy, so we took it back to development and altered the recipe,” notes Villa.
“Seasoning is actually something we’re looking at quite closely at the moment, along with the idea of gut health and also plant protein… specifically pea and rice protein.”
What is healthy?
Added protein, increased fibre, reduced salt – what it means for a product to be healthy is often a subjective matter for consumers. For Graze, however, sugar reduction is the most important focus.
The team has been working with chicory root fibre as a substitute for the sweet stuff, incorporating it into the Lively Lemon Flapjack, for example, which is currently one of the brand’s more popular products.
“We found that consumers want to enjoy treats without worrying about sugar,” says Villa. “As part of a wider low-sugar push across our cereal bar range, we relaunched the flapjack [at the end of April] with a new recipe that contains 50% less sugar than the original.
“Another of our best sellers is the BBQ Crunch sharing bag, which we’ve redeveloped to remove all saturated fats and palm oil.”
Graze’s recent Wow Bakes release at the end of May, which contains as little as 11g of sugar per 100g, was in response to a “growing trend in small-scale afternoon snacking,” with the snack bars also benefiting from the company’s low-sugar project.
“In terms of the future, along with quality calorie intake and increased health benefits, personalised nutrition could be a next step in terms of healthy eating,” adds Villa.