Young people eating snacks to ‘round out’ meals, says NPD Group

Snacks and meals: 'Convenient snack foods such as yogurt, fruit or chips allow consumers to round out their meals and bring more items to the table without having to exert much effort or dedicate time toward cleaning,' says NPD analyst

Younger consumers are reaching for snacks to accompany and round out meals, and the better-for-you category is set to benefit most, finds The NPD Group.

Snack foods eaten at main meals will grow around 5% over the next five years, according to NPD data. Within this, the strongest growth will be in the better-for-you categories like bars, yogurts and fresh fruit.

Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage analyst, said the trend to snack alongside meals was underpinned by several factors.

“First, there has been a slow but steady decline in the number of side dishes prepared at consumers’ main meals. Convenient snack foods such as yogurt, fruit or chips allow consumers to round out their meals and bring more items to the table without having to exert much effort or dedicate time toward cleaning,” he told

There had also been a shift in attitude towards snacking, he said. “Back in the 1980s, more than 70% of people said they try to avoid snacking entirely, but now more people disagree with that statement than agree. In the minds of consumers, snack foods can now be used as part of a healthy diet.”

There was a “paradigm shift”, he said, where the lines between foods traditionally consumed at main meals versus simple snacks had blurred.

Better-for-you to benefit

As the shift to snack alongside meals took hold, better-for-you snack products would benefit, Seifer said, particularly as younger generations – millennials (ages 24-37), gen X (ages 38-48) and gen Z (ages 0-23) – had become more concerned around health.

These consumers have a positive attitude toward snacking and a desire to eat more healthfully, he said, and so “healthful convenience is important during these times”.

However, products that offered flexibility for these younger consumers would do best, he said, particularly those that still enabled some level of involvement.

“[Younger generations] want convenience, but they want ‘sensible involvement’ with their foods… Make it easy for them, but let them take it across the finish line.”

Will snacks take over meals?

Asked if manufacturers should position their product as a meal replacer, Seifer said: “It depends on the product. There is evidence that consumers are using snack foods as meal replacements as well as side dishes.”

For example, chips, bars, yogurt and fresh fruit are categories that consumers split between snack meals and main meals, he said.

However, on the whole he said meal replacement remains a small part of snack food consumption. Snack bars, for example, were predominantly eaten as snacks (53%), then as meal accompaniments (25%) and lastly as a full meal replacement (22%).

Seifer said manufacturers would be better off calling out product benefits, rather than explicitly marketing them as a meal-orientated item.

“Is it high in protein? Does it lack gluten? Does it only take a few moments to prepare? This will let the consumer choose when to consume it, while knowing the benefits regardless of the time it was consumed.”

Related News

"It's all about buy-in. Big retailers know that if they charge us $80,000 in slotting fees it’s not going to work."

Fruigees finds the white space in the fruit snacks category: ‘We’re not getting much sleep, but it’s the best thing we’ve ever done’

FCB RED president: 'Millennials share brands not because they like the brand, it’s because they like their friends more'

Retail expert on millennials: ‘Being liked does not link to purchase as much as being shared’

'Developing national recommendations regarding snacking is extremely problematic for numerous reasons. One size does not fit all...' says researcher

Does snacking have a place in dietary guidelines?

Snyder's-Lance chief marketing officer: 'Given the evolution in America, and with more and more meals being snacks, the concept of snack solutions is going to be gigantic'

Snyder’s-Lance: ‘Snack solutions’ will be gigantic as grazing grabs America

Pass the noodles! I fancy a snack. Does the snackification of everything mean the death of the potato chip?

Everything is a snack: Time to re-invent the potato chip

Saatchi & Saatchi X VP of shopper psychology: 'There are so many great, positive emotional engagements when it comes to snacks. What I see though, is that disappears when the shopper gets into the shopping experience.'

Snacks: Too much health, not enough joy? Saatchi & Saatchi X says maybe…

Datamonitor Consumer analyst: 'In terms of the global picture, I think the all-natural snacking trend has peaked in the most developed markets for the moment'

All-natural snacking trend is starting to falter, says Datamonitor

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.