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Report: 66% of snackers say ‘anything’ can be a snack

Dive into what consumers are snacking on and why. A new report from Datassential reveals the top snacks Americans opt for.

Rachel French

January 2, 2024

2 Min Read
pizza

At a Glance

  • Americans are increasingly redefining “snacks.”
  • Snack frequency is increasing, with a third reporting more frequent snacking.
  • Indulgence is a key motivator, especially for younger generations.

It’s a fact that Americans love to snack. How often they snack, when they snack and what they snack on changes as consumers’ lifestyles, preferences and priorities shift.

One shift in the snacking landscape, identified by Datassential’s recent Nibble on Snack Trends report, is that snackers are increasingly reaching for anything to satisfy their snacking demands.

The report found a vast 66% of consumers think anything can be a snack. In fact, almost half (42%) of the survey respondents said they’re likely to order a slice of pizza from a restaurant as a snack.

What’s more, almost a third of snackers said their last snack replaced a meal, and a whopping 74% said they eat a snack in place of a traditional meal one time or more per week.

Per the report, the majority of snackers (53%) said how often they snack hasn’t changed in the past year.

More consumers, however, reported they’re snacking more frequently compared to those who said they’re snacking less. A third said they’re grabbing snacks more often than a year ago, while only 14% said they’re having snacks less often.

According to the report, fruit is the top snack consumers said they’re grabbing more often, with 35% saying they ate more fruit in the past year. Other snacks consumers said they’re reaching for more often include salty, crunchy snacks (28%); nuts (25%); vegetables (22%); snack bars (22%); cheese (21%); ice cream (21%); and salad (21%).

Potato chips are the top salty snack of choice, with 52% of consumers naming chips as their most-loved salty snack. Following closely behind is popcorn (46%), tortilla chips (38%), beef jerky (34%) and pretzels (32%).

To satisfy their sweet tooth, snackers said they most love cookies and chocolate candy bars (54%), trailed by fudge (38%).

Why consumers snack

Datassential’s snack trends report found nearly half (49%) of consumers feel that snacking is part of a healthy lifestyle. Slightly more than a third (38%) confirmed the last snack they ate was healthy.

Just less than half (41%) said their last snack was indulgent. That’s no surprise considering enjoyment and indulgence are among top snacking motivators across all generations, the report found.

Gen Z was the only generation to cite “treating myself/indulgence” as the main reason behind snacking, with more than half (51%) citing this as the reason they reach for a snack. “Treating myself/indulgence” was the No. 2 motivator among Millennials (43%), Gen X (35%) and Boomers (34%).

Instead, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers cited “to satisfy a craving” as the top motivator, with 44%, 46% and 46% citing this reason, respectively.

The report found Gen Z was more likely than other generations to cite boredom as a reason for eating a snack, while Millennials were more likely to say they opted for snacks to boost energy. Both Gen X and Millennials were more likely than other generations to grab a snack to hold them over until their next meal.

About the Author(s)

Rachel French

Contributing editor

Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI. Connect on LinkedIn.

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