BELLEVUE, WA -- Snacks account for more than half of all eating occasions among American consumers, according to research from The Hartman Group.
Based on data mined from its Eating Occasions Database and a recent consumer survey, the research firm found that 52% of all eating occasions among U.S. consumers in 2012 were snacking occasions -- up from 49% in 2010.
The findings suggest that Americans consume 2.35 snacks a day. Specifically, 41% eat two snacks per day, 24% eat three, 17% consume one, 13% eat four and 4% consume five or more.
Consumers reported that they snack most often later in the day. More than half of consumers reported snacking between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. (56%) and/or between 5 p.m. and midnight (51%). Additionally, 34% said they snack between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.; 31% between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; and 17% between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Of those polled, more than 3 in 10 consumers said that they most often eat snacks at home. Just 12% reported snacking at work, and 7% said they snack "on the go."
While 28% of consumers said they snack when they "want an indulgent treat," many said there's no particular driver for snacking. More than a quarter (27%) of respondents described snacking as an impulse, while 16% said they snack when they don't feel like preparing a meal, and 14% said they snack when they "feel stressed or anxious."
Increasingly, consumers said they consider eating smaller meals more frequently to be healthier, and that snacking bridges the gaps between meals due to long work and commute times.
Some 57% of respondents said it's important that snacks be healthy, despite the fact that chips and soda were the two most popular snack foods they said they consume.