The new face of snacking is driven by value and health

September 11, 2009

Since so many consumers feel they lack control over significant economic matters today, they compensate by snacking.

Since so many consumers feel they lack control over significant economic matters today, they compensate by snacking. It’s the tiniest affordable slack that people allow themselves in order to feel a bit more comforted or a bit less frustrated. Although more frequent snacking may add to their weight problem and frustrate them more in the end - especially if sweet or salty instead of fresh and healthful - a small treat makes them feel better in the moment, and that’s the point.

Deep down, people recognize the short-term pleasure won’t offset mortgage monies due, credit card debt, or the less of a job. But it helps them cope and gives them control over an element of the day.

That’s our take on snacking in the recession. The habit has been fueled by a recent moderation in food ingredients costs - which has allowed makers of potato chips, for instance, to offer 20% more product in a bag without raising prices to consumers. It’s a value proposition in the snack aisle that gives consumers more of what they want when   they want it.

Therefore, the results of a new Packaged Facts survey, Sweet and Salty/Savory Snacks in the U.S.: Lifestyle Marketing and New Product Development in the New Economy, 3rd Edition, don’t surprise us.  “Snack foods - whether sweet or salty, traditional or cutting edge, organic or vitamin-fortified, healthy or indulgent - play an integral part in the American lifestyle. And now more than ever, Americans are craving these delectable treats,” the research publisher says.

“The increased desire stems, in part, from the recession, which has snack consumers embracing a value mentality that prizes quality and whole ingredients, better-for-you recipes, and green production practices. While low prices are always a draw, consumers are seeking snacks with fewer additives or preservatives, and are spending extra dollars for organic and premium snack treats that can boost their flagging spirits over the long climb back to prosperity,” it explained.

Pegging snack industry growth to nearly $82 billion by 2013 - up 20% from $68 billion in 2008 - Packaged Facts publisher Tatjana Meerman called the market “complicated” because snack producers “have to cater to diverse tastes. The pressure is [also] on to keep prices low, health benefits high and production green. [There is also] a “cultural yearning” for simple, real, natural snacks, she adds.