Not only are views on snacking broadening, but consumers are also more likely now than in 2016 to replace one or two meals per day with snacks, according to 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report, a report released by Technomic, Chicago. While most consumers eat three meals a day with a few snacks throughout, the gap between eating three meals per day and replacing meals with snacks is narrowing.

“As busy consumers continue to seek convenience and increasingly replace meals with snacks, look for grab-and-go boxes and heartier snacks such as wings and crab bites to fill the hunger gap,” says Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights. “On the beverage front, protein-infused options that feature health-halo and functional claims, including fresh, unprocessed and energizing, can help position drinks such as smoothies and shakes as smart meal replacement choices.”

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • 80% of consumers say they snack at least once a day.
  • Consumers who replace meals with snacks are most likely to replace lunch.
  • 37% of consumers say that any food can be a snack if the portion size is small.

Compiling findings from more than 1,500 consumer responses, as well as menu and industry data from the Ignite database, this report serves as a guide for foodservice operators and suppliers to help understand consumer usage and attitudes toward snacking and to identify key areas of opportunity.