About three-quarters of Americans in 2022 said they snack at least once a day, marking a 15% jump since 2021, according to International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2022 Food & Health Survey.
The 17th annual survey, which included 1,005 U.S. consumers ages 18 to 80, also uncovered a large uptick in the number of consumers who reported following a diet or eating pattern—from 39% in 2021 to 52% in 2022.
Stress could be the reason more Americans are deciding to partake in at least one snack each day—a habit that spiked to include 73% of adults in 2022 from 58% in 2021, according to the survey. More than half (56%) of Americans said they felt “very” or “somewhat” stressed over the last six months. More Gen Zs (33%) reported feeling “very stressed” than any other generation, followed by Millennials (29%), Gen X (25%) and Boomers (10%).
People who reported feeling very stressed (29%) in the last six months were more likely to snack at least three times a day compared to those who reported feeling only somewhat stressed (10%). Similarly, about 1 in 4 adults (24%) said they always or often eat when they’re feeling stressed.
In the morning, fruit is the snack of choice, with 43% of morning snackers opting for fruit. In the evening, snackers turn to savory/salty snacks (40%), followed by candy, chocolate and other treats (38%), and cookies, cake and ice cream (37%).
On the flip side, 1 in 3 Americans are making positive dietary changes to combat stress. More than half (54%) of people who made changes to their diet/nutrition to address stress said they were trying to eat healthier, while 38% focused on healthy behaviors instead of weight loss, and 37% followed a specific eating pattern or diet.
Overall, more than half of Americans (52%) reported following a diet or eating pattern in 2022—up 13% from 2021. Clean eating (16%), mindful eating (14%), calorie-counting (13%) and plant-based (12%) were the top diet/eating pattern picks in 2022. More than a third of Americans said they follow a specific eating pattern or diet to protect long-term health (35%) and lose weight (34%).
The most popular functional benefit consumers seek in their foods and beverages is energy, with 37% of Americans seeking this health perk. Weight loss/weight management (30%), digestive health (29%), cardiovascular health (28%) and improved sleep (26%) were also among sought-after functional benefits.
Despite continued interest in sustainability—39% said environmental sustainability impacted whether they decided to buy certain foods and beverages in 2022, up from 27% in 2019—high prices at the grocery store could sway purchase decisions away from sustainable options.
When given a scenario with a hypothetical product that cost $3 and another that cost $5 but was produced in ways committed to the fair and equitable treatment of workers, 61% opted for the less expensive option. Consumers responded in a similar fashion when asked about their willingness to pay for an eco-friendly product.
Rachel Adams 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. Adams left Informa Markets in 2019.