NPD: Indulgent Snack Food Makes Comeback By Balancing Health And Enjoyment

Posted On: 6/6/2019

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CHICAGO -- U.S. consumers are giving themselves permission to enjoy indulgent snacks, according to NPD Group’s recently released Future of Snacking report. Brands are supporting their consumers’ quest for balance by offering snacks that walk the line between health and indulgence, like portion-control packs, thinner versions, or nutrient-enhanced savory and sweet snacks, according to the report.

“The role of snack food is changing in different ways in reaction to Americans’ desire for balance, portable snack foods, and holistic wellness,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “It’s no longer about depriving yourself of something you enjoy eating. Today it’s about giving yourself permission to eat indulgent snack foods in moderation.”

Permissible snack indulgence for most consumers tends to be later in the day, either as a dinner or late evening snack. However, the NPD Future of Snacking study finds that indulgence has been growing in the morning whereas midday and dinnertime indulgent snacking has been declining or flat. This makes sense, according to NPD, since breakfast tends to be an on-the-go behavior and snack foods offer the speed and portability needed in the morning.

Overall, snack food eating occasions driven by a need for favorites, cravings, or the need to reward oneself, which typically involve the more indulgent snack foods, will continue to grow over the next five years, NPD predicts. Consumers over 40, Gen Xers, and younger Boomers are expected to drive the growth in snacks like nuts and seeds, cereal bars, toaster pastry and meat snacks, and older Boomers are indulging in higher consumption of chocolate candy, frozen novelties and ice cream.

“A wide range of savory, sweet, and better-for-you snack foods are now permissible in almost any situation,” said Portalatin. “Snack food manufacturers have figured out ways to offer the permission to enjoy.”