Leaders of the snack pack highlighted in report

by Monica Watrous
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CHICAGO – Fresh fruit leads the pack of top snack choices, according to a recent report on U.S. consumer snacking habits from the NPD Group. While healthy snacking is on the rise, the report noted consumers still favor candy, cookies, ice cream and potato chips when it comes to between-meal bites.

Several factors contribute to the upswing in healthy snacking, including time of day and demographics. More Americans are snacking in the morning, when nutrition seems to be a greater motivator, said Darren Seifer, a food and beverage industry analyst for NPD Group.

“As we go throughout the day, we shift more towards what we’re craving – and that’s when the sweets, chocolates, even ice cream cones, come in,” he said.

Children and seniors represent the largest populations of snack consumers.

“Seniors tend to snack more and snack more healthfully,” Mr. Seifer said.

Additionally, yogurt, though not among the top five snack selections, has influenced American snacking habits, he added.

“We’ve been calling it the ‘food of the decade,’ because it’s growing by leaps and bounds,” he said. “Now, in more recent times with the introduction of Greek yogurt and yogurt with less sugar and more protein, a greater health halo surrounds that category.”

As for fruit, apples and bananas were top choices, with berries in “a distant third,” Mr. Seifer said.

Other key findings of the report include:

•  Snacking is a planned behavior. Nearly two-thirds of snack foods are purchased more than 24 hours before consumption, and more than 90% of American households contain traditional salty snacks, such as chips and pretzels.

•  Americans are more likely to check the nutritional label of a snack than that of lunch or dinner items.

• Fifty-three per cent of American consumers snack more than once per day.

•      And although snacking is evolving from a late-night nibble to a morning fuel source, evenings remain the most common day part for at-home snacking.
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