Most consumers snack on both food and beverages multiple times a day, according to Datassential's MenuTrends Keynote snacking report. Of the survey participants, 94% reported eating a food snack the day prior, and 91% drank a snack beverage.
On average, consumers eat about four to five snack foods a day, and three to four beverage snacks. Consumers also overestimate the number of health food snacks like fruit, nuts, yogurt and vegetables they eat per day, and in reality eat more salty crunchy snacks, such as chips and pretzels. An estimated 48% of consumers ate at least one salty snack yesterday.
Many survey respondents said they would like to see healthy snack innovation, with more product offerings like mixed fruit cups, vegan and organic products and high protein, ready to eat snack meals.
As consumer schedules become increasingly hectic, demand for convenient food offerings continues to skyrocket. More shoppers are looking for opportunities to buy ready to eat food products on the go, evidenced by the rise in in-store and subscription meal kits. This trend also is blurring the line between snacks and meals, as more consumers eat several "mini meals" per day to fuel longer work days.
Still, consumers don't want their busy schedules to compromise their nutrition. This has led to the rise of "snack meals", healthy pre-packaged foods like packs of hummus and veggies, apples and peanut butter, or salami and cheese.
Despite these options, many consumers reach for a bag of potato chips or popcorn when snack time rolls around. Manufacturers can cater to this appetite for both salt and health by reformulating favorites, like chips, to be healthier. Several chip makers have begun baking to cut down on calories.
Snack makers can also better leverage healthier fare like trail mix and nut varieties by adding popular spice blends to these products, engaging consumer taste buds. Many U.S. manufacturers are introducing creative, ready to eat ethnic food applications like naan chips and dry or frozen empanadas to lure shoppers interested in snacking innovation.