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Forget feasts: Consumers prefer snacking and smaller meals

it's time for brands to adapt, according to the 2022 State of Snacking report from NielsenIQ.
Smiling girl eating snack on yellow background

CHICAGO — The day of three square meals a day are gone and it's time for brands to adapt to consumers' new normal.

According to the 2022 State of Snacking report from NielsenIQ, which examines how snacking and consumption trends have evolved, meals and consumption moments are no longer confined to specific time windows during the day.

Specifically, the market research firm found that:

  • 57% of consumers have changed their eating habits or meals at least moderately in the past two years.  
  • 42% of respondents claim that their eating habits have become healthier vs. 12 months ago. 
  • 82% say they ate more at home than away from home in the last six months. 

Examining consumption moments, which provide a 360-degree view of consumption, NielsenIQ defines what "snack as the new black" looks like for consumers. They are:

  • Smaller meals are healthier: 39% of consumers say the products they consume during small meals are healthy for them.
  • Full meals are for sharing: Full meal is the largest sharing occasion at 39%.
  • Chips, pretzels and popcorn are the most shared snacks: These snacks represent 30% occasions of snacking.
  • Sweet snacks are indulgent: 24% of consumers have a sweet snack to indulge.

Other highlights of the State of Snacking report include:

Resurgence of the midday pick-me-up

Midnight snacking is a thing of the past as the midday pick-me-up resurges. Respondents say they consume three to four small meals steadily throughout the day from late morning to late afternoon. Nearly half of all full meals are eaten between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The biggest occasion across categories and the highest for snacking is to recharge, according to consumers. Days of the week matter, too. More consumers say they eat alone on Monday and with their partner on Sunday.

Snacking in style

Consumers say 82% of snacking occasions are consumed at home, with chips, pretzels and popcorn ranking as the No. 1 shared snack. Consumers' offices are the second most popular place for snacking.

When it comes to modern-day snacking, NielsenIQ has three key pieces of advice for retailers and brands:

  1. Consider focusing on "better for you" messaging.
  2. Communicate around midday moments, both at home and in-office settings.
  3. Encourage consumers to change their habits by communicating the benefits around snacking with others.

Chicago-based NielsenIQ is a global information services company providing consumer packaged goods and retail companies with the data, connected insights and predictive analytics to power their growth.

Originally published at Convenience Store News - U.S. 

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