Americans snacking more than ever

Despite the lingering effects of global recession, American consumers are snacking more than ever, thanks to less frequent restaurant dining, frenzied lifestyles that encourage on-the-go eating, a growing tendency to replace meals with several smaller snacks, and marketer efforts to combat the obesity epidemic by developing healthier snack foods that still taste appealing, according to Packaged Facts.

In fact, U.S. retail sales of packaged snacks reached $64 billion in 2010, up from $56 billion in 2006, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent. U.S. retail sales of packaged snacks are projected to reach $77 billion by 2015, with annual growth rates edging up from 3.5 percent in 2011 to 4 percent by 2013.

"The boundaries between meals and snacks are growing ever blurrier, creating consumer consumption habits that will resonate for generations. The children of today, comfortable with replacing entire meals with snacks, will pass these lifestyle traits on to their children, ensuring that snacking will remain a big part of American life," says David Sprinkle, research director and publisher.

Health continues to be a strong motivator for food and beverage purchases among U.S. consumers, and Packaged Facts forecasts that it will remain so for the foreseeable future. The pursuit of wellness spans all age groups: the aging population is seeking ways to feel younger and more vital, and the nation as a whole has realized that healthy eating habits need to be taught early on to fight the obesity epidemic. Packaged Facts' March 2011 Food Shopper Insights

Survey reveals that the majority of adult consumers surveyed are actively working to improve their physical health (69 percent) and incorporate wellness goals and concerns into their daily routines (52 percent).

Snack foods marketed as "better for you" will remain popular. Companies must highlight attributes such as vitamins, minerals, fiber content and lower sodium to both educate consumers and take advantage of demand for such products. At the same time, with the ever-growing abundance of "better-for-you" snack products, marketers must also offer secondary appeals to attract consumers, such as unique flavors or ingredient blends, with great taste as a given.