There is a time and place for just about everything, even snacking. A recent study by The NPD Group, a leading global information company, finds that consumers’ tastes for savory and sweet snacks is determined by the time of day, and better-for-you snack consumption is predicated more by place. When looking at the snack-oriented food groups, the day starts healthy with better-for-you snacks, which are typically consumed throughout the day depending on location, savory picks up mid-day, and in the evening there’s a desire for sweet, according to NPD’s Snacking in America report.

 A third of snack/appetizer items consumed for or instead of lunch or dinner are from the savory snack category, finds the NPD report, which covers current and long-term snacking trends and attitudes and behaviors of specific consumer demographic groups. More than a third of snacks consumed after dinner are sweet, and over 40 percent of snacks carried from home and eaten at school, work, in the car, or at other locations are better-for-you.

Not only does time of day and place dictate snack food preferences, but so do the seasons. Sweet snack consumption spikes in November—eating Halloween treats. Better-for-you snacking decreases in November and December, and savory snacking hits its peak in December and January, reports NPD. 

“All snack foods are not treated equally by consumers depending on the time of day,” says Darren Seifer, NPD’s food and beverage industry analyst. “Marketers of snack food products need to communicate with consumers based on day part, while better-for-you snack marketers need to be more focused on location, as in-home versus away from home.”

Consumer Trends, News, NPD Group