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Anxiety on the Rise: How Snack Food Sales Are Soaring

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We can’t get through a day without snacking – and we are not alone. Whether it is fresh fruit, something crunchy and salty, or something sweet, snacks fuel our days. The snack industry is huge, reaching over $150 billion in the U.S. in 2022. Salty snack sales alone having grown 15.6% over the last year, according to Mintel. The snack industry’s major trade show, Pack Expo, just concluded in Las Vegas and here are the most significant trends driving the snack world’s growth.

All Your Favorites Flying Off The Shelves

crunchy snacks.
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Sales of snacks like Doritos, Cheetos, PopCorners, Ruffles, Sunchips, and Smartfood grew by double digits in the second quarter of 2023, with Pirate’s Booty growing a whopping 32%.

The medical community has explanations for salty snack cravings. Sleep deprived people, and those experiencing stress, crave snacks with high “satisfaction levels” such as salty, crunchy foods, although sugar and fat figure into those cravings, as well.

Who Is Buying All The Snacks?

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According to David Walsh, vice president, membership and communication, SNAC International (Snacking Nutrition Convenience), 49% of consumers are snacking more than three times a day, which is up 8% since 2021. Millennials and Gen Z are leading the trend. Apparently at least 92% of this demographic replace meals with snacks, and as their buying power increases, their eating patterns boost the industry.

Is It A Snack, Or A Meal?

woman eating a treat.
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What defines a snack, anyway? A 2021 survey by Mondelez (MDLZ) determined that 64% of consumers worldwide prefer to eat several small “meals” throughout the day, which is up from 59% in 2019.

COVID Changed Patterns

youg woman snacking.
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The COVID pandemic had a significant impact on the snack industry, leading to increased consumption as people sought comfort and familiarity through snacks. However, how we buy snacks has changed due to rising inflation. Presently, 25% of consumers are actively seeking discounted snack items, marking a 3% increase compared to two years ago. Additionally, 20% of consumers are opting to purchase a more limited variety of snacks for their households as a means of cost-saving, representing a 7% uptick in this approach over the past two years.

Consumers Seek Out Spicy Snacks

Photo credit: Hershey.

Some snackers are driven by texture – crunchy snacks are a huge subcategory – but of course taste is paramount. Spicy flavors are very popular right now, even giving way to “challenges”. Hershey-owner Paqui was offering a “one chip challenge”, but after the death of a teen from eating the very spicy snack food, they have pulled the product from the shelves, issuing a recall.

Spicy flavors, often paired with cheese, are very popular with consumers, as are what the industry call “global flavors”, such as Latin American, Asian and Middle Eastern flavors. 

woman eating chocolate bar.
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For sweet fans, chocolate and chocolate nut is as popular as ever, as are berry flavors and cinnamon.

“Tangy” flavors are gaining foothold as well, such as lime and tamarind (which is also part of the global trend).

family snacking.
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Choosing whole fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean protein sources, and being conscious of the portion size of a snack is the right way to snack, according to dietitians.

But, going the candy, chip, soda route leads to high sugar, fat and sodium intake and creates unhealthy eating habits. “Regular intake” of these types of items “can increase a preference for these types of foods, leading to a change in eating behaviors and diet quality,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Source, the school’s general guide to healthy eating.

BFY – Better-For-You

healthy snacks.
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Now the industry even has its own acronym: BFY refers to “better-for-you” snacks. Indulgence remains the primary reason consumers snack, but a Mintel study determined that 22% are motivated by health.

The BFY snack market is currently witnessing a surge in popularity for specific attributes such as prebiotics, probiotics, antioxidants, and the inclusion of servings of fruits or vegetables. Portion control enters the picture as well, with snacks pre-portioned in healthier and more moderate amounts.

“Free-From” Shows Growth

woman drinking smoothie.
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The “free-from” aspect of the food industry speaks to those dealing with allergies to the top 8 allergens: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.

Allergen-free and allergen-friendly snacks have also demonstrated robust growth in both dollar sales (25%) and unit sales (8.7%), along with the continued success of plant-based protein snacks. In particular, snacks offering 15 grams or more of protein have experienced remarkable growth, with a 40% increase.

There is a consumer segment that is willing to pay more for healthier snack options, demonstrating their commitment to their well-being.

Personal Values Affect Purchase Decisions

reading labels while shopping.
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Consumers, especially younger ones, are increasingly drawn to brands that align with their personal values, encompassing social and environmental consciousness. Walsh emphasized the importance of snack manufacturers conveying a specific, clear message.

According to Innova, 55% of consumers express confusion due to the proliferation of environmental labels, making it difficult for them to discern their choices, therefore, food producers should select a cause that resonates with their company’s ethos and aligns with their values to better connect with consumers.

As an example, product unit sales have seen an upswing for claims such as fair trade, animal welfare, and the utilization of upcycled ingredients.

Gas Station Chains With Food So Good It’s Worth Driving Out Of Your Way For

Sheetz Store 1.
Photo credit: Sheetz.

We scoured the Internet to see what people had to say about gas station food. If you think the only things available are wrinkled hotdogs of indeterminate age, and day-glow slushies, we’ve got great, tasty news for you. Whether it ends up being part of a regular routine, or your only resource on a long car trip, we have the food info you need. Let’s look at 6 gas stations that folks can’t get enough of and see what they have for you to eat. Read 6 Gas Station Chains With Food So Good It’s Worth Driving Out Of Your Way For

18 of the World’s Deadliest Foods: How Many Are You Eating?

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Whether you eat to live, or live to eat, let’s make sure you live to see another day! These are some of the world’s deadliest foods. They can bring on extreme symptoms, ranging from paralysis to seizures, choking and even death, so don’t go tucking these into your lunchbox. Click for 18 of the World’s Deadliest Foods: How Many Are You Eating?

10 Of The Worst Tasting Drinks People Pretend To Like

tops of soda cans.
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Hold onto your taste buds, because we’re about to embark on a flavor-filled adventure through the realm of beverages! Sure, we all need water to survive, but let’s be real – drinks are so much more than just basic hydration. Recently, the question of which beverages people secretly think taste awful sparked a fiery debate. Boozy elixirs, non-alcoholic refreshments, and everything in between were thrown into the mix. Brace yourself as we unveil the truth behind the drinks we pretend to love. Get ready for a wild ride of taste revelations! Read 10 Of The Worst Tasting Drinks People Pretend To Like

12 Of The Worst Tasting Foods People Find Disgusting

woman disgusted at food.
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Food. We all have foods we love, foods we cannot stand – and then there are the foods that have people deeply divided. While wandering about an online forum we came across a discussion about foods that people find disgusting.

READ: 12 Of The Worst Tasting Foods People Find Disgusting

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