Snack Attack: The Rise of Snack Foods in the USA

When was the last time you ate a snack? Maybe it was a protein bar on your way out the door this morning. Perhaps it was something you grabbed from the vending machine or your lunch break. Are you eating your “I-can-make-it-to-5pm” go-to snack right now?

Today 45% of consumers replace at least one meal each day with a snack. We love snacking, and no country in the world loves it more than the United States.

Snack Attack

Consider these statistics:

  • 51% of consumers report eating snacks twice a day.
  • 64% of consumers are snacking on chocolate.
  • Between 2009 and 2014, the number of adults eating nutritional bars for breakfast increased 11%
  • Sales of packaged snacks are set to grow by 4% through 2015

Oh, and the snack food industry is projected to increase 7% annually and by valued at $334 billion dollars (USD) by the end of 2015!

Snacking is a huge eating trend with subscription snack boxes popping up everywhere (NatureBox, Graze, etc), and food companies report that their snack lines are their biggest growing markets right now.

Americans are busier than ever, and our on-the-go lifestyles require quick snacks that replace meals (protein bars, soup/mac-n-cheese bowls, freezer burritos or TV dinners). Many people do not have time to prepare a lunch for work – and often, they don’t even have time to leave the office to grab a bite at the coffee shop down the street.

The need for speed and efficiency doesn’t replace the desire for healthy choices. The natural market is one of the largest growing markets, and brands are capitalizing on it. Companies like Healthy Pantry pioneered their Cook Simple meal kits to appeal to busy families who still need a healthy meal that can be prepared in a few minutes. Kroger reports that their “Simple Truth” store brand was their most successful product launch ever – reaching billion-dollar brand status in just 2 years. Healthier options such as fruits, yogurt, and nuts that come in easy to carry packages have seen huge boosts in sales in recent years.

Our snack craze goes beyond the grocery store aisles into restaurants and more! Places like Chipotle and Panera Bread have capitalized on the American desire for healthy fast dining options. Panera takes it a step farther by allowing customers to order online and simply pick up their order off a shelf by the door. Cafés and coffee shops have beefed up their snack offerings – Kind bars, bags of trail mix, and other snacks can be easily added onto your Starbucks coffee order in the morning. It’s perfect for that mid-afternoon snack later.

Here at EPI we are definitely seeing growth in the “healthy” snack segment (ie. Organic, reduced fat, gluten free) but, we are also seeing growth in snacks packaged for on the go (ie. Single serve packs, packages designed for car travel and packs that fit easily into backpacks/handbags etc.