Trends: Snack Potential Remains High

Hand-held products such as cakes, pastries and biscuits are extremely convenient and portable. Hence, they are ideally placed to tap into the projected further growth of categories such as snacking and food-on-the-go – this is despite the challenges posed by ongoing concerns over sugar, fat and calorie levels, as well as the growing popularity of gluten-free diets.

Opportunities within the snacking industry are considered higher than ever, with consumers in many parts of the world demanding a greater choice of products, satisfying criteria such as heath and convenience. As such, the snacking category is expected to continue growing during the next few years, even in parts of the world such as North America and Western Europe, where markets are already considered quite mature.

Over 90% of US consumers snack daily, with half of all adults snacking at least 2-3 times during an average day. Furthermore, over 90% snack at multiple times throughout the day, illustrating how the snack foods market has evolved to encompass a multitude of eating occasions. Snacking in the US is especially prevalent among younger people – almost two-thirds (64%) of US consumers aged 18-24 snack 3 or more times per day. Furthermore, the snacking trend has clearly eroded the habit of eating 3 main meals per day to a significant degree, since around half of all eating occasions in the US are now thought to be made up of either snacks or ‘mini-meals.’

Similar patterns have been observed in Europe. According to a recent survey by KP Snacks, 63% of UK consumers snack at least once a day. Of these, 79% snack at home, 47% at work and 18% during on-the-go occasions. Although taste is the number one market driver, a growing number of snackers are actively seeking out products in smaller-sized portions to help control their calorie intake. Recent data also suggests that demand is increasing amongst UK snackers for healthier products such as packaged nuts and cereal bars, a trend most apparent amongst younger adults and households with children.

Various studies have shown that younger consumers are inclined to snack more frequently than any previous generation. Increasingly, consumers from age groups such as millennials and Generation Z are likely not only to eschew the ‘3 main meals a day’ routine, but to simply eat whenever they are hungry, even late at night. According to recent Mintel research, over three-quarters (77%) of US millennials are likely to snack during a typical day, a figure which decreases to just under half (49%) for baby boomers, many of whom still prefer to stick to more rigid eating patterns.

Reasons cited for snacking by the younger age groups in the US include being hungry between meals, needing an energy boost, being too busy to eat a sit-down meal and boredom. The increased frequency of snacking amongst age groups such as millennials has also been linked with greater usage of social media. Typically, this may take the form of engaging with brands on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as paying more attention to digital marketing campaigns and online reviews from their peers.

Future Directions

Much of the future growth in the snacking arena will depend upon how well bakery manufacturers address consumer desires such as convenience, health and indulgence. As boundaries between mealtimes continue to blur, the impact of snacking habits upon the sweet bakery goods sector should increase, presenting numerous opportunities – for example, snacking on sweet items peaks in the evening in many parts of the world, as consumers unwind after the day’s events.

The continued growth of the food-to-go (FTG) market is also expected to drive the market. Bakery goods such as cakes and pastries represent ideal accompaniments to hot drinks such as coffee – for example, 55% of UK out-of-home purchases of sweet bakery goods occur with hot beverages. The ongoing expansion of the coffee shop culture is therefore likely to keep demand for sweet bakery goods relatively high.

You can find additional information in our print magazine European Baker & Biscuit (Jan/Feb 2018)!

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