Global popcorn market popping with new flavors such as Fruity Pebbles, hot chili pepper, and lime

I'm not sure where I got my little red popcorn air popper, but I've had it for years. A few months ago I ran out of kernels, but I've been craving popcorn lately so I added it to my grocery list. Sadly, I struck out at three grocery stores before I was able to find one that carried actual popcorn kernels and not just bags of microwaveable or pre-popped corn. Maybe it was just my bad luck that my regular Trader Joe's, Aldi, and Costco were all out of popcorn kernels? I finally found some at Fry's (Kroger) and was so excited, because I had literally spent a week looking for them. Upon returning home last night, kernels in hand, I popped a giant bowl of popcorn to share with my dog, Henry Rollins. He absolutely loves popcorn, too!

If I had been looking for ready-to-eat, bagged popcorn, I would have had no trouble at all finding a huge variety of choices. According to Food Business News, in the past year or so, popcorn "has exploded into the snack market as a versatile canvas for many different snacking occasions." They continue, providing more details about the expanding market:

Global research and technology company Technavio has forecasted that the "global ready-to-eat popcorn market size is estimated to increase by $5.61 billion from 2021 to 2026."

As consumer interest in popcorn grows, companies are experimenting with bolder, more innovative flavors. Cookie and Candy Pop, a subsidiary of SNAX-Sational Brands, boasts a popcorn portfolio filled with partnerships. From Fruity Pebbles to Nutter Butter flavored popcorn, the brand has utilized a dozen different flavor combinations that all clock in at 150 calories per 30-gram serving. In popcorn weight, that's a significant amount when compared to other sweet and salty snack options.

Just two months after selling the Pop Up popcorn brand to Grupo Apex, Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV launched a collaboration between its ready-to-eat popcorn brand Popcornopolis and spicy chip brand Takis. The hot chili pepper and lime dusted popcorn variety is available online and at select major retailers.

Earlier this month, AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. partnered with Walmart to expand its retail movie theater popcorn availability. Initially available only at select mall locations, AMC's popcorn can now be purchased nationwide in both ready-to-eat and microwavable varieties.

So, popcorn lovers, rejoice, your options are only going to grow. And if you're like me, and still prefer to buy kernels to pop at home, this piece in NYT's Wirecutter provides some reviews of the most popular at-home methods, including stove-top poppers, air poppers, and microwaveable poppers. I'll be sticking with my air popper—it's so quick and convenient, and because I don't have to add any oil, it's super healthy too. I give the popped kernels a quick spray with avocado oil and then add whatever powdered toppings I'm craving—I have a growing collection of favorites (see the image for my current rotation). Now, go enjoy!