Bakery and Snacks reported that a recent study conducted by Surveygoo found that 92% of American Millennials ages 18-35 eat wholesome, healthy snacks in place of a traditional meal at least one time a week. Approximately 50% of Millennials eat a snack in place of a meal four times a week and 26% do so about seven times a week. Millennials are turning toward snacks instead of meals because they are too either too busy for a sit-down meal or do not want to take the time to cook a full meal.
Many companies are targeting Millennials by offering health-conscious products in their portfolio. For example, PepsiCo has reduced sugar in some of its beverages. Millennials prefer whole grain ingredients such as whole grains, fruit, and nuts because they prefer clean, organic, and less-processed products. The overall definition of a snack is continuing to change from a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts to a wide array of different foods.
The food industry is driven by convenience. Manufacturers and restaurants are introducing items that satisfy a rapidly growing appetite for smaller meals that can be consumed on the run, even if this may not be the healthiest way to eat. Americans are eating fewer sweet snacks, but they are consuming healthier snacks such as yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, and protein shakes.
While chips and chocolate are still the most popular snacks, cheese has become the third most popular snack. According to Cheese Market News, 33% of people say they are eating healthier snacks this year compared to last and 60% of people want more healthy snacking options. This is especially true for Millennials who eat twice as many snacks as older generations, but Millennials focus on eating healthier snacks.
Snacks provide a great opportunity for food companies because they are often more expensive than traditional meal components. Snacks represent a large amount of shelf space in grocery stores. For example, for the cereal powerhouse, Kellogg, snacks have increased from 20% in 2000 to 50% today. Kellogg and other snack companies are developing more single-serve packages to offer more grab-and-go snack options for consumers.
According to vice president and general manager of Hillshire Snacking, Jeff Caswell, “Consumers are shifting away from this traditional snacking definition to include a more expanded variety of options to satisfy a more sophisticated food palate.” Millennials have a passion for food and love new flavors and unique food combinations. Millennials are pushing the snacking industry to create more fresh, healthy, and protein-packed snacks.