Industry News | May 17, 2010

Snacks are the New Favorite Meal

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Recent research from Mintel Menu Insights found that snacking is the new way to order at restaurants. Menu items that contain the descriptors “snack,” “snackable,” or “snacker” have increased by a staggering 170 percent since 2007, and growth is expected to carry on as restaurants continue to explore this new trend.

“Snacks are providing a huge opportunity right now for restaurants ranging from quick service to fine dining,” says Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Mintel. “By innovating menus with various snacking options, restaurants can boost sales throughout the day and drive guest traffic during non-peak hours.”

Consumers are more likely to visit restaurants in the early and late afternoon for snacks, the 3-6 p.m. time slot being most popular with 37 percent of Mintel’s respondents. Spending, however, peaks in the early evening. Only 19 percent of respondents purchased snacks from a restaurant between 6-8 p.m., but the average amount spent is $4.26 per person versus only $3.79 across all other time periods.

“Snack options need to be appropriate for the time frame,” Giandelone says. “Heartier and pricier fare may have more appeal later in the day, while light options may work best in the morning or early afternoon.”

The majority of snackers (64 percent) look for a beverage when snacking, and 61 percent opt for something portable. Meanwhile, just more than half (52 percent) crave an indulgent snack, and 50 percent want something salty to nibble on. Only 32 percent of snackers choose a healthy option, which counteracts the health conscious trend that is being seen in the restaurant industry.

Join Eric Giandelone and Joan Holleran on May 19 at 2 p.m. CST for a free webinar on Captivating the Consumer: Menu Snacking Innovations. Register here:

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