- Although millennials and younger people are viewed as major snackers, baby boomers are also looking for appealing snack options, especially of the sweeter variety, according to a presentation by IRI covered by Food Business News. Their tastes are different than younger generations, although both like snacks that have perceived health benefits.
- The presentation noted that consumers are eating more than 2.5 snacks a day — and often more if they're in the millennial and Gen Z groups — providing an opportunity for future growth.
- IRI data show that snack sales are outperforming total packaged food and beverage. They jumped 3.4% in the past year to hit $42.5 billion, while candy sales rose 1.4% to $25.3 billion.
While eating habits and flavor profiles may be different depending on age, IRI noted that manufacturers are potentially missing out on a major market if they don't develop products that appeal across generations. The munching between mealtimes — and sometimes instead of mealtime — continues to increase across all ages. Baby boomers, however, are often neglected as companies focus on millennials and Gen Zers, who drive a lot of snack growth.
IRI pointed out that among the common threads — whether a consumer is 18, 28 or 58 — is the desire to eat foods that have functional and better-for-you qualities, such as KIND protein bars and RXBAR products. Consumers also seek out non-GMO, gluten-free and organic foods.
On the opposite end of the food spectrum, all ages love their sweets, which is another area of growth as each generation grabs for chocolates and chewy candy. Even if younger consumers snack more often, IRI has previously found that boomers spend more on snack and candy products than their millennial counterparts, giving food makers and marketers another incentive to target them.
To help innovate and hit a new consumer market, many food manufacturers have turned to acquisitions to expand their reach. Campbell Soup spent about $5 billion to buy snack maker Snyder's-Lance earlier this year, which brought a variety of popcorn and chips into its portfolio. And Hershey spent $1.6 billion to acquire Amplify Snack Brands, which makes potato chips, tortilla chips, protein bars and cookies.