A snacking revolution

The number one reason US consumers snack is to treat themselves (50%), new research shows, and more than one quarter (28%) says taste is more important than health when choosing a snack.

In addition to eating snacks as a means of reward, Mintel research reveals that snacking for self-care continues to be a popular motivator as nearly two in five (37%) consumers say they snack to give themselves a break during the day and 24% snack to relieve stress.

What’s more is that one in six (17%) US consumers snack in order to control their weight, up from just 10% who said they snack to help them lose weight in 2015.

Despite the propensity to indulge, health plays a key role in the types of snacks consumers eat. One third (32%) of consumers say the majority of snacks they eat are healthy and over one quarter (28%) say they are snacking on healthier foods this year than in 2016. In fact, snacks with health related claims are among the fastest growing snack launches, with low/no/reduced allergen claims accounting for 46% of total new snack product launches in the US in 2017, an increase of 30% over 2013.

While the percentage of US consumers who say they snack has remained steady in recent years, snack frequency is on the rise as those who say they snack two to three times per day increased from 50% in 2015 to 55% in 2017, while those who report snacking once a day fell from 29% to 24% over the same period.

Not surprising, younger consumers are leading the snacking revolution as millennials (aged 23-40) are the most likely to snack four or more times a day (25%), compared to 10% of generation X consumers (aged 41-52) and 9% of baby boomers (aged 53-71).

“The importance of snacking in America is undeniable and it is creating more and more opportunity for companies and brands as snacking frequency increases, particularly among younger consumers,” explains Beth Bloom, associate director of US food and drink reports at Mintel.

“While health is a factor for consideration in food and drink decisions, the majority of snackers do so for a treat, meaning even health focused snacks should appeal with messages about enjoyment and indulgence. In recent years, brands have focused product innovation largely on cleaner formulations, highlighting an opportunity for innovative products with health attributes that appeal to health conscious consumers.”

Talking of snacks, I’ll be travelling to Vienna, Austria, next week for the biennial Snackex trade show and conference. Organised by the European Snacks Association (ESA), the event focuses on savoury snacks and nuts. If you’d like to schedule a meeting there, please email [email protected] and if you’re not attending, look out for live updates on Twitter @confectionprod.

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