Gone are the days when chips and cookies were just for eating while watching TV. For some consumers, snacks have now become whole meals, defying decades of health advice. Today, nearly half of US consumers have three or more snacks per day — up 8% in the past two years, according to market research firm Circana Group and cited by the Wall Street Journal monday And the younger generation—mostly millennials and Gen Z, from teenagers to people in their early 40s—are likely driving this rising phenomenon.
“Millennials are taking something that had negative connotations with older generations — parents telling you ‘don’t snack and spoiling the meal’ — and turning snacks into whole foods themselves,” Andrea Hernández, author of Snaxshot, an online newsletter focused on food and drink trends, said the Wall Street Journal.
Snacking has been around for a long time, and now accounts for 22% of energy intake among US adults. Increases in video gaming and food prices are said to be responsible.
The change in food choices is partly due to high inflation, which may cause people to buy the cheapest food. Krogers, the largest US grocery chain by sales, said the Journal that it sells more boxes with smaller snack bags inside to appeal to a growing snacker base.
“Meal occasions are becoming less evenly spread throughout the day, moving consumption away from mealtimes,” says a February report which analyzes US food patterns in 2022 by the Hartman Group, a research consultancy. “The decline in dining occasions witnessed in 2021 continues in 2022, as consumers move to more frequent snacking, with fewer items per occasion.”
Forty-nine percent of consumers in 2023 are looking for snacks in bulk packages, up from 8% a year ago, for various reasons such as saving money and controlling drinking portions. , according to Circa.
“You start to see the ‘snack-ification’ of everything,” Hernández said the Journal.
Snacking is global, according to international food brand Modelez. The company found patterns in snacking—such as a 42% increase in snacking between 6 am and 10 am in 2021 compared to 2013, driven by Gen Z and millennials. Within this group, women in particular around the world are more likely to snack in the early hours of the morning or skip meals, according to Mondelez’s 2022 State of Snacking survey published earlier this year.
Nick Graham, global head of insights and analytics for Mondelez, said the Journal that millennials and Gen Z consumers typically eat about 10% more snacks per day compared to other generations.
Mondelez also sees that between 2020 and 2022, there will be at least a 10% increase in people replacing breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks.
junk food has negative health effects linked to obesity and diseases such as diabetes. About 20% of children aged 19 and under are obese, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. and snackingin particular, can result in unwanted weight gain and the loss of nutritious foods.
When snacking is evolving, so are snack makers. US snack sales to reach $181 billion by 2022, up 11% from last year, the Journal reported, saying Circana’s date.
Companies want Mondelezthat makes Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers, and the chocolate-maker Hersheysaw their revenue increase by 22% and 30%, respectively, from 2019 to 2022.
The snacking boom has also helped some of these companies change how they sell their products. For example, cereals are sold now snack pack while some iconic chips are in “bite size” packaging.
To reach a wider segment of the younger audience, food and beverage companies are trying new channels of engagement—such as the metaverse, the virtual world that is supposed to be the future, but in now mostly a ghost town. Cheetos, the popular cheesy snack made by The PepsiColaunched a targeting campaign the metaverse in October.
But these companies are also facing a changing consumer palette, where conscious eating and healthier options are front-and-center.
Circa a leak was detected of consumers choosing snacks purely for taste, but found an increase in those choosing more nutritious snacks such as granola bars and nuts. Even traditionally unhealthy snacks have found healthier ways to repackage their offerings—like fried potato chips and grain-free or baked chips.