Snack Foods Are Increasingly Consumed At Main Meals and Gen Zs and Millennials Will Drive This Trend Over the Next Decade

When snacking replaces a foodservice meal, the meal is most often lunch

Chicago, March 6, 2017 — Health consciousness, more solo households, and convenience are among the reasons more U.S. consumers, particularly young adults, are eating snack foods as part of their main meals, finds The NPD Group, a leading global information company.  Although most snack foods are eaten between meals, snack foods eaten at main meals now represent 24 percent of all snack food eatings, which is up from 21 percent five years ago, according to NPD’s continual tracking of U.S. consumers snacking attitudes and behaviors.

The trend toward eating snack foods at main meals is being driven by Gen Zs and Millennials.  Older Gen Zs and Millennials are more comfortable eating alone than are previous generations, and snack foods offer a low-cost, smaller portioned alternative that fits that lifestyle.  They are also shifting toward fresh foods and foods with a healthy halo, which is why fresh fruit and refrigerated yogurt are among the top snack foods included in main meals. As Gen Zs and Millennials age and move through life stages their interest in consuming snack food at main meals is expected to continue.  Annual eatings per capita of snack food at main meals is forecast to grow by 12 percent by 2024, according to NPD’s Generation Study: The Evolution of Eating.

There are 12 billion snack visits made to restaurants and other foodservice outlets, reports NPD. When snacking replaces an away-from-home meal, the meal is most often lunch.  Forty-eight percent of foodservice snack visits occur during the lunch timeframe.  Morning snacks represent 23 percent of foodservice snack visits and evening 30 percent.

“Although consumers are not adding new snacking occasions to the day, there is a shift in what’s eaten at main meals and how snacking is viewed,” says David Portalatin, vice president, industry analysis, The NPD Group.  “Consumers today expect snacks to work for them; the snack is no longer just a reward. 

Snack foods that offer consumers flexibility on price, portion size, and portability allow them to compose an eating occasion that fits their specific needs at the time, whether they look at it as a snack, meal replacement or part of a main meal occasion.” 


Related Press Releases

The Flexibility of On-Demand Meal Kits Strikes a Chord with Consumers
The Flexibility of On-Demand Meal Kits Strikes a Chord with Consumers

Although a subscription-based meal kit delivery service doesn’t appeal to a broad segment of the population, the meal kit concept does and with increased availability of the kits at grocery stores, online, and in restaurants, a greater number of consumers are using meal kits, reports The NPD Group.

Portion-Control Salad Dressing Catches Tailwind of Foodservice Delivery Boom
Portion-Control Salad Dressing Catches Tailwind of Foodservice Delivery Boom

Foodservice delivery sales grew by 20 percent over the past 5 years and riding on this boom is portion-control salad dressing, a delivery order staple.

Aging U.S. Consumers Slow Down Food And Beverage Consumption Making It A Battle for Market Share
Aging U.S. Consumers Slow Down Food And Beverage Consumption Making It A Battle for Market Share

The aging population and corresponding changes in life stage will contribute to the decline in total eating occasions on a per capita basis in the U.S., according to The NPD Group’s recently released Eating Patterns in America.

What’s Life Stage Versus Generational Behavior When It Comes to Dinner Planning? Millennials Are Showing Us The Difference.
What’s Life Stage Versus Generational Behavior When It Comes to Dinner Planning? Millennials Are Showing Us The Difference.

It’s a common oversight not to age generations or recognize how life stage can impact behavior. To understand the difference between generational and life stage behaviors enables food companies and foodservice operators to develop products and marketing messages that are more relevant to their target consumer audiences.


Press Contact

Kim McLynn
847-692-1781
kim.mclynn@npd.com

@npdfood

The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

Want more?

Complete this form to hear from NPD.


npd.com | © 2018. The NPD Group, Inc.

Follow Us on