Innova: "fourth meal" driving snacking growth

25 Jun 2019

There has been a 14% average annual growth in food and beverage launches with a snacking claim according to Innova Market Insights.

For most consumers, the company notes, snacking is a part of daily life and always has been. What is changing, Innova says, is the way people think about snacking and what is considered to be a snack.

Innova: fourth meal driving snacking growth

“Fundamental changes in eating patterns largely driven by increasingly busy lifestyles mean that the traditional pattern of three meals a day has been giving way over some years to a less formal eating pattern,” said Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “This is shifting to a more fragmented and flexible eating style, encompassing multiple small meals or snacks, often eaten alone or on the go.”

This rise in the so-called “fourth meal” culture has, according to Innova, increased demand for quick and convenient yet healthy solutions for busy consumers. This is creating opportunities for wholesome, satisfying and sustaining snacks to fulfil the role of mini meals and play a more meaningful role in contributing to refuelling and nutritional needs throughout the day.

Healthy snacking choices are seeing the fastest growth rates for NPD overall, Innova’s research reveals, with nutritious options gaining ground. This is led by vegetable-based snacks, with an increasingly high profile for on-trend ingredients such as more unusual nuts, ancient grains, hummus, avocado, seaweed, hemp and baobab, for example. On the go and lighter options such as miniatures, bites and puffs are also increasingly in evidence, as is the search for the right balance between health and indulgence.

There are also regional differences in preferred snack types, with Innova Market Insights consumer research indicating that nuts and seeds, chocolate and yogurt/drinking yogurt are the top three choices in the US, for example, while chocolate leads from potato-based snacks and sweet biscuits/cookies in the UK.

“As traditional meal times and occasions disintegrate and people seek quick, convenient, yet healthy solutions for busy lifestyles,” Williams notes. “We are continuing to move away from the traditional three-meals-a-day norm.”

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