CHICAGO -- Consumers are snacking substantially more now than they were just two years ago, according to new research from food industry research firm Technomic.
Almost half (48%) of consumers polled say they're now snacking at least twice a day, compared with 25% in 2010, according to Technomic's "Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report." More than a third (37%) of consumers said they have broadened their definition of snacks to include more types of foods, beverages and restaurant fare.
Impulse purchases of snacks are also up from two years ago, according to Technomic. Sixty-two percent of survey participants reported that most of the snacks they purchased for away-from-home consumption were bought on impulse.
More than 33% of consumers polled said they expect to eat more healthful snacks in the coming year, indicating greater importance for operators of offering and promoting better-for-you snacks.
"Recent consumer research indicates that snacking is becoming a larger part of consumers' daily lives," said Technomic executive vice-president Darren Tristano. "Pressure from the nutritional disclosure legislation has prompted the foodservice industry to reduce calorie counts in meals. As a result, Americans are now more inclined to 'graze' throughout the day, seeking snacks that provide fuel between traditional meal parts."
Restaurants are reportedly capitalizing on the growing snacking occasion by offering portable, smaller-portioned, low-priced food and drink to continue gaining share of snack purchases. Restaurants now claim 22% of consumers' snacking occasions, up from 17% in 2010, the Chicago-based research firm reported.
Technomic also found that major chains are using late-night hours to promote value-oriented snack items and bar plates to cater to younger customers who visit more often for late-night snacks.