Industry News | March 13, 2012

Restaurants Adapt to Snacking Trend With Smaller Portions

Consumers are snacking significantly more now than they were just two years ago. Almost half (48 percent) of consumers polled say they’re now snacking at least twice a day, compared to 25 percent in 2010.

Restaurants are capitalizing on the growing snacking occasion by offering quick, portable, smaller-portioned, low-priced food and drink in a myriad of ways to continue gaining share of snack purchases. Restaurants now claim 22 percent of consumers’ snacking occasions, up from 17 percent in 2010.

“Recent consumer research indicates that snacking is becoming a larger part of consumers’ daily lives,” says Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. “Pressure from the nutritional disclosure legislation has prompted the foodservice industry to reduce calorie counts in meals. As a result, Americans are now more inclined to graze throughout the day, seeking snacks that provide fuel between traditional meal parts.”

To help operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively identify opportunities for growth and gain a competitive advantage, Technomic has developed the Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report.

Interesting findings include:

  • Major chains are using late-night hours to promote value-oriented snack items and bar plates to cater to younger customers who visit more often for late-night snacks.
  • More than a third (37 percent) of consumers have broadened their definition of snacks to include more types of foods, beverages, and restaurant fare.  

  • The mini sandwich, slider, or wrap has evolved from a simple snack item to a downsized gourmet version of signature full-sized offerings.
  • Impulse purchases of snacks are up from two years ago. Sixty-two percent reported that most of the snacks they purchased for away-from-home consumption were impulse purchases.
  • More than 33 percent of consumers expect to eat more healthful snacks in the coming year, indicating greater importance for operators to offer and promote better-for-you snacks.

 

Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report examines snack preferences, attitudes, and purchasing behavior of more than 1,500 consumers. The Menu Insights section utilizes Technomic’s MenuMonitor online database and analyzes recent snacking developments to reveal menu trends for snacks at the Top 500 and emerging limited- and full-service restaurants. Additionally, data from Technomic’s 2010 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report is discussed throughout to provide comparison benchmarks for many menu and consumer trends.