Junk food is getting a makeover — or at least it should be, in the eyes of the youngest generations.
Generations X, Y, and Z, which together make up the bulk of the population, are driving the trends to snack more — and snack more healthfully.
Generation Z, ages 0-23, Millennials (Generation Y), ages 24-37, and Generation X, ages 38-48 have a craving for snacks in-between meals, at meals, or in lieu of a meal, based on NPD Group’s ongoing food consumption research.
Salty, sweet, high, low, or no calories are all contenders for attention, as long as they have a perceived health benefit. Protein, natural, or no-sugar or reduced-sugar are all desirable traits in a snack for these consumers.
Their positive attitudes about snacking, desire to eat more healthfully, and need for convenience are among the reasons for the growth in snacks with a perceived health benefit.
And, boomers, a large number of whom have health conditions, tend to watch for sodium and sugar content in snacks.
The three mega snack categories are better-for-you, savory, and sweet.
Better-for-you snack foods such as fresh fruit, breakfast/sports bars, and yogurt have risen in consumption rates by 14 percent since 2006 and are forecasted to be the fastest growing out of the three categories according to NPD’s The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018? report.
Savory snacks, such as salty snacks and dips, increased consumption by 4 percent since 2006 and are forecasted to grow as well.
As for sweet snacks, consumers are losing their sweet tooth a bit. However, companies are combating that by offering more sweet snacks with health benefits, which is forecasted to stabilize consumption rates over the next few years.
“Snacking today is a prevalent behavior and there is an opportunity in every snack category for manufacturers to call out the specific health benefits — from desirable ingredients to clean labeling,” says Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst. “There is also a generational slant to take into account for each category when positioning and marketing snack foods.”
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