Think millennials are driving the snack food industry? Think again, said The NPD Group, which found baby boomers consume ready-to-eat snacks 20% more often than millennial consumers.
Based on daily tracking of U.S. consumers’ snacking habits, NPD found boomers consume ready-to-eat snacks about 1,200 times a year, which amounts to a total of 90.4 billion snack eating occasions. This compares to 1,000 annual snacking occasions per millennial for a total of 83.1 billion snacking occasions.
Factors driving snacking occasions differ among the generational segments. While millennials choose grab-and-go snacks to quell hunger, boomers opt for snack foods in lieu of preparing a big meal. Boomers eat alone more often than other age groups, NPD said.
“Our snacking research shows us that all snackers are not alike,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst and author of the company’s “Snacking in America” study. “Motivations, snack food choice, and when and where to snack differs among age groups.”
Older and younger consumers alike choose snacks based on taste and craving. The top three snack picks for both groups are fruit, chocolate candy and potato chips; however, boomers tend to favor nuts and yogurt, while millennials are more likely to reach for tortilla chips and cookies.
Though boomers were found to snack more frequently than millennials, children and teenagers have both demographics beat when it comes to the number of snack foods consumed. Those aged 2-17 eat an average of 1,500 snack foods each year, which is above average compared to other age groups, NPD said. Healthier snack foods rate highest among 2- to 5-year-olds, while older children are more likely to consume sweet and savory snacks.
“Everyone gets it that as a nation we like snack foods, but the key for food manufacturers is to find the nuances in snacking behaviors in order to differentiate a brand or find a white space opportunity,” Mr. Seifer said.