In-home snacking -- morning, noon and night, but especially morning -- will outpace population growth during the next decade.

That's one conclusion from "A Look into The Future of Eating," a new study by The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y.

The research firm has been continuously tracking eating habits in the U.S. since 1980, and now in a new study, the company forecasts what Americans will be eating in the future, and it looks like they’ll be eating a whole lot of snacks. In its new report, A Look into The Future of Eating, NPD finds that in-home snacking ─ morning, noon, and night, but especially morning ─ will outpace population growth over the next decade.

NPD says that by 2018, the total number of in-home snack occasions are projected to increase 19 percent over 2008 annual eatings. Morning snacking is forecasted to increase by 23 percent, and in-home afternoon snacking is expected to grow by 20 percent over eating occasions in 2008. Evening snacking is forecasted to increase by 15 percent over the next ten years compared to 2008. 

“The strong projected growth in snacking is both a reflection of the growth in new types of snack foods as well as an evolution of how consumers eat,” says Ann Hanson, author of A Look into The Future of Eating and director of product development at NPD. “Many consumers are eating ‘on the go’ and there are more and more foods available to meet this need.”

A Look into The Future of Eating evaluates and forecasts 160 different food and beverage-related behaviors, attitudes, personal characteristics, and food groups based on the eating and drinking habits of individuals as they age, as one generation replaces another, and expected population changes in the U.S. The report also provides a preview of macro-consumption patterns and behaviors in the year 2018.

Other insights from the report include:

- Convenience, which could mean reducing or eliminating the amount of food preparation, eating more restaurant meals or versatile and ready-to-eat foods, will be a key motivator in what, how, and where Americans eat over the next decade.

- The forms of foods that are expected to under-pace population growth are frozen breakfast foods, canned ingredients, and completely homemade dinner foods.