Meals are for squares
BFY snacks are trending
There may be some debate about what constitutes better-for-you snacks, but there’s little doubt as to consumers’ growing preference for healthier snack nutrition.
Sebastian Emig, director general of the European Snacks Association, recently presented data that supports both the overall shift from Square Meals to Snackification, as well as emerging facets of healthier savoury snacks.
In Europe, close to half of consumers aged 16 to 24 “frequently eat snacks instead of eating a proper meal” and “75% are trying to find balance in snacks, healthy versus indulgent.” Further, “half of consumers (are looking) for healthier snacks all or most of the time (and) 80% all/most/or some of the time.”
Timing is everything
Research: Afternoon snack time is the largest snacking daypart.
o People eat dinner later, so the gap between meals has extended.
o One in five consumers skip lunch, substituting with afternoon snacks.
Result: Morning snacking is driven by health-oriented or better-for-you needs, while evening is about treat/reward, relaxation and sharing. Afternoon snacking, however, remains a battleground daypart where neither health nor indulgence dominates needs choices. Anything goes.
(Source: Ipsos FIVE)
Improving the nutritional profile of snacks by reducing levels of salt, sugar, and fat—addition by subtraction, if you will—has its limits. About 10 years ago, The Campbell Soup Company announced a commitment to dramatic reductions in sodium by reformulating more than half of its condensed soup SKUs. A year later, after a sharp fall in sales, the company’s new CEO-elect dialed back the reductions by 50%.
There’s little doubt that healthier snacking is here to stay. Last year, global market intelligence agency Mintel surveyed 2,000 Canadians regarding their snack eating habits, motivations, and attitudes. When asked what “types of snacks are you interested in?”, the top-ranking responses were gourmet flavours, plant-based, and ethically-sourced snacks. Mintel found that “younger (aged 18+) women are most interested in plant-based options.”
Snacking is increasingly replacing or supplementing the traditional meal occasions of breakfast and lunch. So, it makes sense that consumers are looking for snacking options that offer them nutrition with substance, rather than empty calories.
Pirates, like Navy sailors, used to eat their meals off of wooden platters. The pirate code dictated that the size of your portion could reflect your contribution to the cause. Ironically, as a pirate, you didn’t get a ration, but received a fair-and-square meal.
When it comes to meal habits, it’s very likely that snacking will continue to steal share. As a parent, I made it a point to emphasize the importance of structure in meals. Despite this, my three millennial kids, more often than not, choose to eat-what-they-want-when-they-want-it.
The historical daypart demarcations dividing out daily, structured, square meals have blurred. And while the post-COVID landscape remains to be seen, the compass seems to be pointing to a golden age of snacking, available to be plundered by convenience operators.