Consumers Changing How They Snack: Study

The snacking habits of most consumers (76 percent) have altered somewhat over the past two years, according to a recent study by Chicago-based foodservice industry consultant Technomic, which found that more than one-half of consumers snack at least once a day. Furthermore, around one-fifth of consumers polled (21 percent) said they’re snacking more often these days, with over one-third (35 percent) opting for healthier items than they were two years ago.

Technomic’s “Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report” looks at snacking behavior, purchase decisions, attitudes and preferences away and at home; at retail establishments and at restaurants; and by consumer demographic.

Additional findings include the following:

—More than two out of five consumers (42 percent) said they normally skip one meal daily or replace a meal a day with snacks
—About three-quarters (74 percent) of snacking goes on at home, but consumers age 18 to 24 are more likely to snack outside the home than other groups (32 percent vs. 26 percent)
—Consumers buy the majority of their snacks from retail locations rather than restaurants (83 and 17 percent, respectively)
—Around one in five consumers (19 percent) have widened their definition of snacks to encompass more types of food

“Growing snack consumption and the consumer’s broadening perception of what constitutes a snack are changing how operators and manufacturers should position this category,” noted Technomic EVP Darren Tristano. “The greatest opportunities likely exist for packaged snacks and prepared offerings at retail locations and limited-service restaurants, although many full-service concepts seem to have room to market snacks as well.”

The “Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report” aims to help foodservice executives understand menu trends, consumer preferences, needstates and attitudes connected with snacking occasions. Based on the results of a January 2010 online survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers, the Consumer Insights section of the report provides data analysis by Snacking User group (super-heavy, heavy, moderate and light) and age group. To buy or learn more about the report, visit
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