The Sweet Side of Snacking

Did you know that the word “snack” is derived from the Middle Dutch word “snacken” (sometimes snappen) meaning to bite? A snack by definition is a food portion that is often smaller than a regular meal, generally eaten between meals but sometimes used as a meal replacement.

pokeySnacks come in all shapes, sizes, varieties and forms including packaged snack foods and other processed foods as well as items made from fresh ingredients at home. A snack can be taken at any time of the day and, really, can consist of any type of food. A giant ice cream sundae at midnight may be a snack to some while a smoothie mid-morning is a snack to others. With consumers progressively on the go manufacturers and retailers are developing products that can be mobile with them and fit any occasion. In fact, the snack space is where it’s at. According to IRI:

  • Sales are projected to reach $200 billion by 2020.
  • The average U.S. consumer eats 2.6 snacks daily.
  • 41% of consumers snack 3 times per day.
  • Snacking happens more frequently in the afternoon and evening hours.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of the total designated snack food sales are of the sweet variety.

Today’s busy consumers have various snacking styles – healthy, for fuel, to satisfy a craving or to replace a meal. But indulgence seems to be a key driver among snackers. In fact, 59% of Americans indicate they indulge when snacking, opting for sweets throughout the day.

icecreamCookies, ice cream and cupcakes (oh, my) are no longer the sole drivers of this sweet snack segment. Yogurt – traditional, frozen, Greek, as an ingredient or yogurt dipped snacks – appears to be the rock star of the sweet snack aisle today. Snack bars, almonds and trail mixes are turning to confectionery ingredients like chocolate and peanut butter candies as well as dessert inspired flavor profiles. Even protein drinks feature dessert inspired flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. And category lines are blurring: traditional savory formats like potato chips are getting the sweet touch – chips dipped in chocolate or featuring sweet and savory flavor profiles are flooding the marketplace.

Manufacturers are leveraging indulgent trends with healthy products and health trends with indulgent products hoping to capture both occasions and consumer type. Will this distract consumers from healthier focus or attract non-healthy snackers to the category? Time will tell and in the meantime we have a lot of delicious snacking options to choose from. In any case,
delicious things are happening in the snack food segment.

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Posted in: Tasteology

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