Like a lot of our eating habits, the way we snack is evolving. Snack foods are making their way from the sidelines to the frontlines, no longer relegated to being eaten between-meals or as lunch side dishes. More snack foods are being eaten at – or instead of – main meal occasions1, and this trend, along with many others, will continue to change the way we snack..
With a shift toward functional snacking, the expectation now is that our snack foods will follow us throughout the day2, offering balance, portability, and holistic wellness3.
These trends in portable, single-serving snack foods that fit into our busy lives are set to continue growing in the next five years, driven predominantly by young adults2.
Trends in Snack Usage:
When breaking down snack food consumption, savory snacks come out on top with 36%, followed by sweet and better-for-you snacks tied at 32%. These trends aren’t expected to change, with projections forecasting the continued growth and dominance of savory snacks.4
Additionally, to align with growing interest in balance and wellness, many savory brands are adding protein or substituting ingredients that make snacks feel healthier.3 Indulgent snack foods are also making a comeback, reinventing themselves as an intersection between health and enjoyment, or promoting moderation as an incentive to indulge.3
With different snacking need states over the course of a single day (from routine snacks, to yummy snacks, to ‘reward me’ snacks) the snacks that can fulfill more than one need state have an opportunity to stand out.2 Take Jell-O snacks for example; they meet all need states, and are most likely to be consumed in the afternoon, satisfying all midday cravings.2
Snacking Habits by Generation:
Each generation has clear but different expectations for snacking and snack foods. Whereas Gen Z turn to functional snacks, Gen X will choose satisfying snacks, and Baby Boomers snack habitually.3 Gen Z and Millennials also have snacking habits unique to their age groups.
For Gen Z
s, portability, nutrients and health benefits are key. This group has high expectations when it comes to flavor and freshness; it’s got to be good and good for them.3
For millennials, variety is integral to their snacking. This group prioritizes what’s new, whether it’s a new flavor, new packaging, or a whole new category – and they want the freedom to try and test a wide variety of snacks.3
Ultimately, with snacking habits set to continue evolving, brand innovation like unique flavor mash-ups, ethnic influences, and experiential snack foods, will be key to keeping consumers engaged in this new era of snacking.