CHICAGO -- Boomers consume ready-to-eat snack food 20% more often than millennials do, according to NPD Group's daily tracking of U.S. consumers' snacking habits.
While millennials overtook boomers in population number in 2015, annual "eatings" of ready-to-eat snacks per boomer are about 1,200, or a total of 90.4 billion snack "eatings," while there are about 1,000 snack "eatings" for each millennial or a total of 83.1 billion snack "eatings." (NPD defines "eatings" as an occasion where snack foods are consumed. The measurement does not include the amount of snack foods consumed.)
According to the research firm, millennials reach for what is often a grab-and-go snack because they're hungry. Boomers snack because they don't want to prepare a big meal, and eat alone more often than other age groups. Both groups choose snacks based on taste and craving.
Millennials are aligned when it comes to the types of ready-to-eat snack foods consumed. Fruit, chocolate candy/candy bars, and potato chips rank as the top three snack picks for both. Boomers and millennials take different paths after the top three, with boomers reaching for nuts and yogurt and millennials for tortilla chips and cookies.
Although Boomers outpace Millennials in ready-to-eat snack food eatings, they don't come close to kids when it comes to the amount of snack foods consumed. Kids, ages two to 17, consume an average of 1,500 snack foods per year, an above average amount compared to other age groups. Healthier snack foods rank highest with kids, particularly with kids two to five, ages where parents primarily control what they're eating. Sweet and savory snacks start to creep up in rank alongside older kids.
"Our snacking research shows us that all snackers are not alike. Motivations, snack food choice, and when and where to snack differs among age groups," said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst and author of the company's Snacking in America study. "Everyone gets it that as a nation we like snack foods but the key for food manufacturers is to find the nuances in snacking behaviors in order to differentiate a brand or find a white space opportunity."