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 away and at home; at retail establishments and at restaurants; and by consumer demographic.

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, but 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); and about one in five consumers (19 percent) have broadened their definition of snacks to include more types of food.

“Growing snack consumption and the consumer’s broadening perception of what constitutes a snack are changing how operators and manufacturers should position this category,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. “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.”

Menu Innovations, News