The Skinny on Snacking in America

Get the skinny on snacking in America

Summary: With trick-or-treats, pumpkin pie, and stocking stuffers just around the corner, we’re entering the sweetest months of the year—a great time to explore the snacking habits of Americans. We recently surveyed 500 consumers to understand how snacking behavior has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. Here we offer a slideshow featuring answers to 10 tasty questions about snacking.

Agent locations 250 men, 250 women

It’s the best and worst of times for the snack industry.

 

On one hand, snacking is becoming more embedded in American culture—a trend some onlookers call the “snackification” of the country.

 

The traditional meal structure of breakfast, lunch, and dinner is in trouble, as more and more Americans, particularly Millennials, prefer to snack, you know, all day long. As one headline in the Wall Street Journal reads, “Forget Dinner. It’s Always Snack Time in America.” The L.A. Times went so far as to propose the snack as the new national symbol.

 

On the other hand, many Americans today are in calorie-cutting mode, showing greater concern for what they put in their bodies. As CNN reported earlier this year, one medical study found that the average American consumed 24,000 fewer calories in 2010 compared to 2003.

See also: 7 Barriers to Higher Vending Machine Sales

 

To explore how America’s favorite pastime—snacking—is evolving, we surveyed 500 adults, divided evenly between men and women, with an average age of 36. Though we considered other questions, our primary objective was to understand how snacking behavior is changing.

 

We asked agents to take pictures of their snack supplies inside their homes:

Agent photos of snacking cabinets

 

As a small preview of the slideshow below, here are 3 questions we asked along with a snippet from our findings: 

 

Q: For the following snack categories, which best describes how much you eat now compared to 5 years ago? 

A: At least half of the sample said they’re drinking fewer carbonated beverages (54%) and eating less chocolate candy (51%) than 5 years ago. In comparison, only 25% said they’re eating fewer salty snacks today.

 

We also asked agents to look into the future 5 years from now, to tell us whether they expect to be consuming more, less, or about the same in various snack categories.

Q: In what ways, if any, do you snack differently today than you did in the past?

A: More than half of respondents (52%) said they eat more fresh snacks (e.g., fruits, vegetables) today when compared to the past. 

 

Q: On a scale from 0-10, where 10 is "extremely unhealthy" and 0 is "not at all unhealthy," rate the following snacks by your perception of how unhealthy they are.

A: While salted nuts came in at a relatively low 4.07, regular soft drinks (8.10) were perceived as most unhealthy among the snack choices presented. Respondents also rated candy bars and potato chips.

 

See the slideshow to view the results for yourself.

 

Our Groceries 2.0 special report offers an in-depth look at how retailers are using new web-based methods to sell groceries to today's consumers. From customer reviews of Walmart Pickup to shopper sentiment toward the latest “grocery tech," the report is based on surveys and shop-alongs with more than 500 consumers.

 

Field Agent's FREE Report on the Future of Grocery Shopping