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All-Day Snack Trends Can Help Serve Up More Sales

Five Snacks a Day

Snack attacks used to be limited to the occasional treat between meals. But times have changed, and so have consumers’ eating patterns. What was once an opening act has spilled over into the main event as snacks assume center stage in the lives of more and more consumers and take a star turn in the foodservice spotlight.

Five Snacks a Day

Adult consumers surveyed average five snacking occasions per day, most often in the
afternoon vs. evening vs. morning1
(40%)             (35%)         (25%)

Now that the definition of snacking has broadened, with 70% of participants in a survey conducted by the market research firm Mintel agreeing that any food item can be considered a snack,2 snacking has become culturally ingrained and open-ended. Mintel’s data indicates that more-frequent snacking can lead to snacks becoming meal replacements as the distinction between snacks and meals become increasingly blurred.2

The Hartman Group, another leading market research firm for the foodservice industry, reports that snacking accounts for 50% of all drinking and eating occasions, with 91% of consumers surveyed snacking multiple times throughout the day.3

According to the Hartman Group, increasingly frequent snacking is a key characteristic of modern eating styles. 21% of survey participants said they were snacking more than in the last five years; 42% of the same group cut back the number of meals eaten in a day.3 The firm cites the decline of nuclear family food rituals, the popularity of wellness trends, and greater access to more diverse culinary options as determining factors in the pervasiveness of snacking.3

Millennial Snack Hack: A Fervor for Function and Flavor

In particular, snacking has become a way of life for millennials, who are more likely to snack than other generations.2 Many millennials tend to be functional snackers. While full meals have traditionally been a primary source of energy and nutrition, millennials are turning to snacking as a way to stay energized and focused throughout the day.2 Nearly 40% of millennials surveyed by Mintel snack for energy.2

“Millennials are also more likely than older generations to indicate snacks with added nutrition and flavor variety are important to them,” explained Amanda Topper, a Mintel food analyst. “As a result, they may be drawn to products with high fiber, energizing claims or protein content to stay satiated, as well as bold flavors to help add variety to their frequent snacking occasions and eliminate boredom.”2

As the generation most likely to snack and with the greatest snacking frequency, millennials are a focus for foodservice and restaurant operators looking to leverage the anytime, anywhere snacking trend. Ready-to-eat snacks are in demand, with 77% of snackers surveyed expressing a preference for them over those that require preparation. Wholesomeness and nutrition are also key, as shown by the 60% of survey participants who wish there were more better-for-you options.2 Not surprisingly, given the millennial insistence on bold, exciting and new flavor experiences, Mintel research shows that taste still reigns supreme, with 51% in agreement that taste is more important than wellness.2

As snacks displace meals and grow in popularity as convenient, on-the-go sources of satisfaction and nutrition, foodservice and restaurant operators should make sure their snack assortments are robust enough to accommodate all-day snacking trends. No matter what the daypart, chances are snack-hungry consumers will be on the hunt for options that combine convenience, quality and flavor.

1 Added Value Q3 2015
2 Mintel, A Snacking Nation: 94% of Americans Snack Daily, July 9, 2015
3 The Hartman Group, The Future of Snacking 2016 webinar, Feb. 28, 2017

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