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Snacking gains more traction as a consumer lifestyle, finds Technomic

Grazing throughout the day is big right now. Snacking a few times a day is also growing. Restaurants and others are capitalizing on expanding snacking occasions by offering quick, portable, smaller-portioned, low-priced food and drink in a myriad of ways to keep gaining share of snack purchases. Restaurants now claim 22% of consumers’ snacking occasions, up from 17% in 2010, according to food industry consultant, Technomic, Chicago.

“Recent consumer research indicates that snacking is becoming a larger part of consumers’ daily lives,” says Technomic executive vice president Darren Tristano. “Pressure from the nutritional disclosure legislation has prompted the foodservice industry to reduce calorie counts in meals. As a result, Americans are now more inclined to ‘graze’ throughout the day, seeking snacks that provide fuel between traditional meal parts.”

To help operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively identify opportunities for growth and gain a competitive advantage, Technomic has developed the “Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report.” Findings include:

• Major chains are using late-night hours to promote value-oriented snack items and bar plates to cater to younger customers who visit more often for late-night snacks.
• More than a third (37%) of consumers have broadened their definition of snacks to include more types of foods, beverages, and restaurant fare.
• The mini sandwich, slider or wrap has evolved from a simple snack item to a downsized gourmet version of signature full-sized offerings.
• Impulse purchases of snacks are up from two years ago. The study reports that 62% of purchasers said most of the snacks they bought for away-from-home consumption were impulse purchases. More than 33% of consumers expect to eat more healthful snacks in the coming year, indicating greater importance for operators to offer and promote better-for-you snacks.

The report also examines snack preferences, attitudes and purchasing behavior of more than 1,500 consumers. A Menu Insights section utilizes Technomic’s MenuMonitor online database and analyzes recent snacking developments to reveal menu trends for snacks at the Top 500 and emerging limited- and full-service restaurants. Data from Technomic’s 2010 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report is discussed throughout to provide comparison benchmarks for many menu and consumer trends. To learn more about the report, visit www.technomic.com.

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