- The individual snacking category reached $33 billion in the U.S., as annual household spending on snacks increased to $133, about 1.1% over 2016's total, according to a Nielsen study.
- Nielsen’s report also analyzed dollar growth from 2013 to 2016. Different kinds of bars, ranging from meal replacements to granola, saw the strongest surge with an increase of $633 million. They were followed by jerky, with a $547 million spending jump, and individual cookies and crackers, which saw $469 million more in sales.
- Snack products that tout specific health claims drive the strongest uptick in sales. Non-GMO claims saw an 18.2% boost in sales for each of the past five years, followed by snack products that are free from artificial colors/flavors (16.2%) and no or reduced sugar claims (11.3%).
As consumers’ busy lives get even more hectic, many are substituting three square meals a day for a variety of grab-and-go snacks. The three categories with the largest dollar share in the snacks segment are dairy (22%), bars (17%) and confections (17%). However, cookies and crackers, jerky, salty snacks and produce are seeing greater growth.
Demand for healthier products, like bars and jerky, have seen strong dollar growth from 2013 to 2016 as consumers strive to eat better. Still, people haven’t lost their sweet tooth or taste for potato chips. Sales of individual cookies and crackers ranked third-highest in terms of sales gains at $469 million over those three years.
Manufacturers looking to make their products stand out might consider modifying ingredients and recipes to make the kind of health claims to which consumers respond. Expanding the types of individual snacks they sell would offer more variety, and likely appeal to consumers’ interest in new tastes and flavors. In addition, offering better quality healthy options at supermarkets and convenience stores alike cater to consumers' desire to eat better on the go.
Demand for more snack options is transforming many sections of the food and grocery markets, and already forced some to evolve. Cereal is still most often consumed for breakfast, but just under half of consumers also eat it as a snack in-between meals. Breakfast itself is slipping in popularity, with more people skipping breakfast than they were two years ago. Manufacturers have responded by introducing to-go tubs of cereal and bars that can be eaten while driving to work.
Almost a quarter of all snacking is now occurring during main meals — up from 21% five years ago. Fresh fruit and yogurt — both seen as healthy options — are the two most popular mealtime snacks.
The continued interest in portable, simple ingredient snacks has made some categories hyper-successful, like fruit and nut bars. Kind is a leader in this space, and confectionery giant Mars announced it was taking a minority stake in the company last week.