Consumers Eschew Junk for Healthier Snacks

May 19, 2014

Falling right in line with SupermarketGuru’s 2014 trends, find out what the consumer panel had to say about snacking.

Snacking is closely catching up to meal occasions in popularity, so what are consumers actually snacking on and when? Find out here in the exclusive Lempert Report quick poll.

Forty-one percent of our consumer panel says they are snacking about the same as last year, while thirty-one percent is snacking more. Most snack at least twice a day, the top reasons include: as an afternoon pick me up (60 percent), when watching television (44 percent), steadily between meals to keep metabolism burning (33 percent), post dinner (30 percent), when bored (29 percent), and when working (24 percent).

The consumer panel is a healthier bunch choosing nuts and fruit most often, followed by chips, crackers, cheese, cookies, yogurt, candy, vegetables, and bars. Looking at the association between daily snacking frequency and the Healthy Eating Index, researchers from the NPD Group recently found that as snacking increased, so did individuals' overall diet quality. As a result, healthy options for consumers are on the rise with nearly sixty percent of all snack foods now positioned as better for you, according to Innova Market Insights.  We can see this to be true among the top choices for the Consumer Panel.

Lu Ann Williams, head of research at Innova Market Insights, commented on Food Business News, how ingredients may improve a snack’s health attributes. She said ancient grains, including millet, quinoa and chia, experienced a 69 percent compound annual growth rate in savory snack launches from 2009-13.

Is this true for our consumer panel as well? When asked about the top five priorities when choosing snacks, responses included, healthfulness, quick and easy, emotional satisfaction, calories, and wanting something that was filling.

Research has even demonstrated that snacking may be associated with a more nutrient dense diet. According to researchers from Auburn University and Beijing University, total fruit, whole fruit, whole grains, oils, sodium, and milk scores were all positively associated with snacking frequency. This study is the first to look at how snacking contributes to the overall quality of individual’s diets. The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, reported that, "people who eat snacks have healthier diets.”

Paying attention to what consumers want is the key to accelerating the snacking category while improving health. Retailers and CPGs, and others in the food industry, healthfulness should be a priority when designing snacks, displays and more.