Millennials Replacing Meals with Snacks

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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.

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A New Generation of Coffee Drinkers

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A new generation of coffee drinkers are shaping the coffee industry! According to market research firm, Packaged Facts, coffee sales are going strong. The research firm stated that in 2015, the U.S. market for packaged and ready-to-drink coffee sold at retail was estimated at $13.5 billion. By 2020, sales are predicted to be close to $18 billion in the U.S. Traditional coffee products such as ground coffee and instant coffee has been in the decline. Ground coffee is still the largest segment, but single-cup coffee is catching up quickly!

There are three segments that have lead to growth in the coffee industry:

  • Single cup coffee
  • Cappuccino/iced coffee
  • Ready-to-drink coffee

Many older and traditional consumers are still purchasing ground coffee in cans and some have moved toward specialty coffee. Millennials are drinking more specialty coffee than any other generation. In fact, this generation is drinking more coffee than other generations. Millennials are much less likely to drink coffee at breakfast, but they will drink it at lunch or dinner or in the afternoon or evening. According to the Specialty Coffee Chronicle, almost half of the population under 40 is more likely to consume coffee outside of the home. Coffee Talk stated that approximately 30% of coffee consumption for young coffee drinkers is away from home.

Younger coffee drinkers are more concerned with the entire coffee supply chain especially sustainability. The market share of gourmet coffee beverages (gourmet traditional coffee, espressos, iced or frozen drinks, etc.) have continued to increase especially among younger audiences. Older Millennials are the most likely age group to drink cappuccinos, mochas, espressos, gourmet coffee, caffè Americano, flat white, cold brew, and nitrogen infused coffee. The number of cups of coffee consumed in the U.S. decreased over the past year, but retail earnings have still increased as consumers spend more money on premium coffee products. Over the years consumers have shown that they are willing to pay more for a higher quality premium cup of coffee!

Millennial Parents Shaping the Snack Industry

The world of snacking is constantly changing as new trends emerge. The snacking habits of millennial parents are forever changing the snacking industry. Millennial parents have been choosing healthier options for their families and letting their families be a part of the decision making process.

Millennials are eating more snacks than any other group. Food Navigator stated that the sales of snacks have grown more than 3% a year since 2008. Millennials snack during meal times more than any other generations. There is a trend for Millennials to have snacks as a meal replacement for breakfast, lunch, and dinner more than any other generation. So not only are Millennials snacking more frequently, they are replacing traditional meals with snacks which have helped Grab and go food items succeed.

According to Packaged Facts, there are three mega trends shaping the children’s food industry:

  1. Industry players must consider the generational influence of the millennial parent on the children’s food and beverage market.
  2. Manufacturers and marketers consider ethnicity and  race for food and beverage products.
  3. There is an increased focus on nutrition through stealth- health and real food movements. Many food companies are sneaking fruits and vegetables into kid-friendly foods. Parents are more likely to buy foods with healthy terms such as clean, local, and organic.

Millennials want healthier snacks. This generation has grown up in the obesity crisis with the media pushing them to find healthier options. Millennials are reading product labels more than any other generation to find products with low calories, no trans fats, no added salt, etc. This generation is looking to more natural options such as fruits and vegetables. Millennials are strongly influencing the flavors of snacks with a desire for more complex, bold, and spicy flavors.

With these trends in mind, it is easier for the snack food industry to reach millennial consumers. Some common snack trends for Millennial parents are: low-prep and prepackaged meal replacements, high protein snacks, healthier snacks with lower fat and sugar, and convenient on-the-go options. In terms of snacks, millennial moms prefer snacks that have no artificial ingredients.  Bars, nuts, yogurt, and chips are being sold at a record rate. Chips and chocolate are still the most popular, but healthier options are making up a larger percentage of snack choices.

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