Healthy snacks, bowls of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peanuts, pretzels
Consumers tend to start the day with healthy snacks.

CHICAGO – When it comes to snacking, consumers consider the time and place before deciding what to munch on. A recent study by The NPD Group, Snacking in America, shows that consumers’ cravings for savory and sweet snacks depend on the time of day, and their desire for better-for-you snacks depends more on their snacking location.

When looking at snack-oriented food groups, consumers usually start the day with healthy, better-for-you snacks. They usually are consumed throughout the day depending on location. Around midday, savory snacking starts to pick up and in the evening, consumers switch to sweet snacks, according to the study. 

The report shows that one-third of the snack or appetizer items that consumers eat around the lunch or dinner hour are from the savory category. More than one-third of post-dinner snacks are from the sweet category. And, more than 40% of the snacks that consumers carry with them — from home to work, school or in the car — are better-for-you snacks.

The seasons also play a role in snack food preferences. Sweet snacking increases in November (right after Halloween) and better-for-you snacking decreases in November and December, during the holiday season. According to the report, savory snacking is at its highest during December and January.

“All snack foods are not treated equally by consumers depending on the time of day,” said Darren Seifer, NPD’s food and beverage industry analyst. “Marketers of snack food products need to communicate with consumers based on day part, while better-for-you snack marketers need to be more focused on location, as in-home versus away from home.”