More Consumers Now Snacking at Restaurants

According to recent research from Mintel Menu Insights, restaurant menu items incorporating the words “snack,” “snackable,” or “snacker” have risen an impressive 170 percent since 2007 and further growth is expected as restaurants pile on this new trend.

“Snacks are providing a huge opportunity right now for restaurants ranging from quick service to fine dining,” said Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Chicago-based Mintel. “By innovating menus with various snacking options, restaurants can boost sales throughout the day and drive guest traffic during non-peak hours.”

The research found that consumers are more likely to visit restaurants in the early and late afternoon for snacks, the 3 p.m.-to-6 p.m. period being most popular with 37 percent of respondents. Spending is at its highest in the early evening, however: While just 19 percent of respondents bought snacks at a restaurant between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., the average amount spent was $4.26 per person, compared with $3.79 across all other time periods.

“Snack options need to be appropriate for the time frame,” notes Giandelone. “Heartier and pricier fare may have more appeal later in the day, while light options may work best in the morning or early afternoon.”

The majority of snackers (64 percent) like a beverage when snacking, whereas 61 percent choose something portable, which gives food retailers such as supermarkets and convenience stores an opening to lure some otherwise restaurant-bound snackers by offering more of their own ready-to-eat handheld nibbles. Meanwhile, just over half (52 percent) go for indulgent snacks and 50 percent prefer a salty nosh. Only 32 percent of snackers said they choose better-for-you items, bucking the health-conscious trend currently being seen in the restaurant industry.
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