Most consumers (76 percent) say their snacking habits have changed in some way during the past two years, reports a new study by foodservice industry consultant Technomic. More than one-half of consumers snack at least once a day. About one-fifth of consumers (21 percent) say they are snacking more frequently now, and more than one-third (35 percent) say they are choosing healthier options than they were two years ago.
The findings are detailed in Technomic's new "Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report," which examines snacking behavior, purchase decisions, attitudes and preferences at home, retail establishments and at restaurants, and by consumer demographic.
According to Darren Tristano, Technomic EVP, many things have played into consumers' changing snacking habits, including price point; value, restaurants' experimentation with new, smaller products to reduce risk; and "most importantly the desire by consumers to have more options and portion flexibility to meet their current needstates," he said. This presents an opportunity for the foodservice industry to cash in on.
"Growing snack consumption and the consumer's broadening perception of what constitutes a snack are changing how operators and manufacturers should position this category," said Tristano. "The greatest opportunities likely exist for packaged snacks and prepared offerings at retail locations and limited-service restaurants, although many full-service concepts seem to have room to market snacks as well."
Select findings include:
- More than two out of five consumers (42 percent) say they usually skip one meal a day or replace a meal a day with snacks.
- Roughly three-quarters (74 percent) of snacking takes place at home. However, consumers aged 18-24 are more likely to snack outside the home than other groups (32 percent versus 26 percent).
- Consumers purchase the majority of their snacks from retail locations as opposed to restaurants (83 and 17 percent, respectively).
- About one in five consumers (19 percent) have broadened their definition of snacks to include more types of food.
Some trends and venues examined in this report include:
- Bar snacks and happy-hour menus: Fleming's Prime Steakhouse's 5 for $6 â€˜Til 7 Bar Menu
- Ethnic-inspired upscale food trucks: Mmmpanadas, Kogi's
- Healthy and fresh: Jamba Juice's 3g Energizer, McDonald's Parfait
- Bundling snacks into combo meals: Long John Silver's Popcorn Shrimp Snack
- Afternoon menus: Einstein Bros.' Snack Out Menu
- Beverages as snacks: Caribou Coffee's chocolate-based specialty drinks.
The "Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report" was designed to help foodservice executives understand menu trends, consumer preferences, needs and attitudes associated with snacking occasions. The Consumer Insights section is based on results of a January 2010 online survey conducted with 1,500 American consumers, and provides data analysis by Snacking User group (super heavy, heavy, moderate and light) and age group. Menu Insights utilizes Technomic's exclusive MenuMonitor database to look at how leading, emerging and independent chain operators are menuing and positioning snacks.