Snacking Expands

Today, more snackers say they have increased snack frequency during the day, and the view of what constitutes a snack is expanding.

Nearly all (94 percent) of U.S. adults snack daily with 25 percent of Millennials saying they snack four or more times per day, Mintel reports. In 2017, 55 percent of snackers say they snack two to three times per day, an increase from 50 percent in 2015. Additionally, according to Mintel, “it seems the opinions of what constitutes a snack are expanding as nearly two in five (38 percent) consumers agree that anything can be considered a snack and one in seven (14 percent) say they are snacking on ‘less traditional’ snack foods such as sandwiches and cereal.

Most snack for a treat, and Mintel found that brand plays the largest role in purchase decisions, trailed by price and health. It’s not surprising then that more than 90 percent of consumers indicate they purchase snacks based on tastes they will enjoy, reports Information Resources Inc. (IRI). In turn, the “core indulgent” snacks segment, including salty snacks like potato chips, chocolate-covered salted snacks, and ice cream, is still growing faster than the “core healthier” snacks segment, which includes items such as trail mixes and snack-size fresh produce, 3.4 percent to 0.9 percent, respectively, IRI explains. Specifically, compared to the prior year, salty snacks grew 3.9 percent in dollar sales and 3.4 percent in unit sales for the year ending December 26, 2017, and salty snacks was one of four of the top ten core snack categories to post growth for both dollars and units, IRI reports.

According to Mintel, “Overall, sales of salty snacks have grown 30 percent since 2011, reaching an estimated $11.2 billion in 2016, with growth primarily driven by innovation in the meat snacks and popcorn categories. When it comes to salty indulgences in particular, Mintel’s report on salty snacks reveals that the types of salty snacks [such as meat snacks, pretzels, corn snacks, pork rinds, popcorn and cheese-flavored snacks] consumers eat depends on the occasion. While consumers are most likely to enjoy popcorn while watching TV or a movie at home (62 percent), and the various types of popcorn available, such as caramel corn or microwavable, make it versatile as a snack for when consumers want to treat themselves (37 percent) or want something healthy (19 percent).”

Mintel found about one third (32 percent) of snackers say the bulk of snacks they consume are “healthy.” Indeed, Mintel’s Global New Products Database found “snacks with health-related claims are among the fastest growing snack launches.” With the FDA and food manufacturers continuing to focus on reducing sodium, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery reports that SNAC International, the snack industry’s trade association, “wants to ensure that all sodium-reduction guidance, whether mandatory or voluntary, follows a review of the totality of the science as it relates to sodium consumption levels and impact on health.”

With a great variety of snack foods available for purchase, from companies expanding current brands, to new snack products, to the blurred lines of what consumers consider to be a snack, Mintel expects snack foods manufacturers to continue to target development on snacks that have health attributes. The research firm believes “even health-focused snacks should appeal with messages about enjoyment and indulgence.”

Conclusively, Euromonitor International predicts “the movement towards more snacking occasions will result in a more diversified array of snacks available. Snacks will continue to be one of the most innovative segments of packaged food for years to come.”

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[1] Mintel. “Top Reason US Consumers Say They Snack Is to Treat Themselves.” 13 Jun 2017. Mintel Group Ltd. Accessed on 6 Aug 2017. Retrieved from http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/food-and-drink/top-reason-us-consumers-snack-is-to-treat-themselves

[2] Mintel. “Top Reason US Consumers Say They Snack Is to Treat Themselves.”

[3] Mintel. “Top Reason US Consumers Say They Snack Is to Treat Themselves.”

[4] Mintel. “Snacking Motivations and Attitudes – US – May 2017.” Summary of report available for purchase at Mintel Store. Mintel Group Ltd. Accessed on 6 Aug 2017. Retrieved from http://store.mintel.com/snacking-motivations-and-attitudes-us-may-2017

[5] Lyons Wyatt, Sally. “2017 State of the Snack Food Industry.” 2017. Powerpoint. Information Resources, Inc.

[6] Lyons Wyatt, Sally.

[7] Lyons Wyatt, Sally.

[8] Mintel. “Top Reason US Consumers Say They Snack Is to Treat Themselves.”

[9] Mintel. “Top Reason US Consumers Say They Snack Is to Treat Themselves.”

[10] Mintel. “Top Reason US Consumers Say They Snack Is to Treat Themselves.”

[11] Peckenpaugh, Douglas. “State of the Industry 2017: Dynamics of the Perfect Snack.” 19 Jul 2017. Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery. Accessed on 6 Aug 2017. Retrieved from http://www.snackandbakery.com/articles/90430-state-of-the-industry-2017-dynamics-of-the-perfect-snack

[12] Mintel. “Top Reason US Consumers Say They Snack Is to Treat Themselves.”

[13] Mintel. “Top Reason US Consumers Say They Snack Is to Treat Themselves.”

[14] Skelly, Jack. “Does Snacks Appeal Still Exist?” 5 Oct 2016. Opinion. Passport. Euromonitor International.