Overall, the much-ballyhooed shift toward all-day snacking to replace traditional meals isn’t new. Despite what the market trend gurus proclaim, the so-called hottest trend of the last five years has been going on for decades. However, it has accelerated even more in recent years as established manufacturers and start-up incubators roll out better-for-you offerings that are gaining greater acceptance with today’s consumers. They include not only aging millennials, but perhaps more importantly, an even younger — and potentially more influential — generation of future snack purchasers. In fact, an analysis of the Economic Census of Manufacturing data showed the value of shipments rose 41% to $17.2 billion in 2007 from $12.2 billion in 2002 and another 19% to $20.5 billion in 2012.
Another more recent manufacturing survey indicated sustained double-digit growth through 2016.
“When you look back 15 years, what you really see is that snacking is a ‘durable growth’ story,” noted Elizabeth Avery, president and c.e.o., SNAC International. “With limited exceptions, the trends have all been upward. There’s nothing but opportunity for the future of this category.”
During the past decade, she added, snack sales have risen two to five times faster than the underlying food industry, and it’s attracting new companies because this market has a lower barrier to entry than other food groups.
“However, the biggest of all trends is that we have the demographic wind at our back,” Ms. Avery said. “Every survey shows that for younger consumers — whether they’re Gen X compared to millennials or millennials compared to Gen Z — the number of snacking occasions just rises, and that gives current companies and newcomers to the industry more opportunity to meet their needs.”