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Will Consumers Turn to Healthy Snacks?

Traditional meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner are increasingly being supplemented by snacks. In fact, consumer research suggests that Americans consume an average 2.3 snacks per day.

Eating now takes place anywhere and anytime, but the majority of consumers report that snacking occurs most often at home. Further, nearly half of all adult eating occasions happen alone, which may contribute to mindless eating and the selection of indulgent foods in proportions that might not be chosen when eating with others.

Nutrition experts agree that snacking healthfully can help people avoid binge-eating cycles that may accompany the deprivation of meal skipping. What’s more, a growing number of consumers report a desire to manage their wellness by eating nutritious foods.

Retail dietitians can point shoppers toward snack choices that provide specific nutritional and lifestyle attributes.

Portable Fruits and Veggies

Items like apples, bananas and nectarines are packaged by nature as ready to eat, but growers are making produce even more convenient via single-serve containers of grape tomatoes, apple slices, baby carrots and the like, often with dips or seasonings.

Additionally, retailers are providing store-made offerings such as melon or pineapple cups and carrot and celery stick packs. Shelf-stable fruit and veggie purée pouches remain popular among kids and some adults, and now kale, broccoli and sweet potatoes come in the form of flavored crunchy “chips.”

Whole Grains

Whole grains are an important source of fiber and other nutrients, and nutrition experts recommend making half or more of your grains whole grains. Such snacks are on the rise: The Whole Grain Stamp appears on more than 10,000 products.

Retailers should consider hosting in-store events featuring whole grain snacks as part of a national whole grain sampling day on March 30, 2016. Visit for details.

Packed With Protein

Consumer interest in protein remains high. According to research from The NPD Group, in Port Washington, N.Y., meat snack consumption is up 18 percent over the past five years, with protein content cited as the primary reason for the spike. Jerky of various types leads in popularity. In addition, dairy products, nuts and hard-cooked eggs are popular protein-laden snacks.

Controlling Portions

Snacks offering portion control help consumers enjoy their favorite indulgences while minimizing the risk of overeating. Choices include 100-calorie packs of chips, crackers, pretzels or cookies, as well as mini chocolate bars, fruit- and-nut granola bars, bags of popcorn or nuts, and mini desserts.

While customers often look for snacks that meet particular lifestyle traits such as organic, vegan, gluten-free, affordable or convenient, don’t forget the No. 1 sought-after attribute: great taste. Snacks that deliver delicious, satisfying flavors and textures are the ones that will keep customers coming back to buy more.

Retail dietitians can point shoppers toward snack choices that provide specific nutritional and lifestyle attributes.

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