Frito-Lay's new U.S. Snack Index finds this Memorial Day will be turning point

May 20, 2021
In 2020, more than 80% of Americans were staying home for Memorial Day; this year, 80% are gearing up to go out as results flip

Memorial Day kicks off an anticipated "breakout summer" as consumers catch up on activities they missed out on last year, and however and wherever consumers are celebrating, snacks will be plentiful.

Frito-Lay's latest U.S. Snack Index, a poll focused on consumers' snacking habits, found that eight in 10 (80%) indicated they have already made plans for Memorial Day, including many activities outside the house like attending a barbecue, spending time at the park, visiting the beach, traveling or playing outdoor sports.

The results are a drastic difference compared with the 2020 data in which 82% of consumers noted they planned to stay at home alone for the holiday. Additionally, 50% of vaccinated adults said they plan to spend time with people outside of their household for Memorial Day.


  • Consumers are returning to in-person shopping and dining at an accelerated pace – from drug stores, to convenience, to big-box retailers and quick-service restaurants.
  • More people are getting snacks in-person at the grocery store (a 14-point increase from 2020). One-third (35%) are picking up snacks at convenience stores – an area that has seen a large uptick as consumers get out more.
  • But, eCommerce is here to stay as consumers are now used to purchases at the push of a button. Frito-Lay anticipates eCommerce to double by 2025 and online snack sales are up approximately 7% year-over-year.
  • When choosing a summer snack, the most important thing to consumers is convenience or having tried-and-true favorites (89%).
  • Chips are the top snack to stock up on for nearly all summer activities and two in three say they prefer to stick with the classic, traditional flavors this summer.
  • However, Americans are getting more adventurous compared to last year, with people preferring new, spicy and bold flavors (25% in 2020 vs. 32% in 2021).
  • This is exponentially higher among Millennials and Gen Z, with 45% saying they prefer new, spicy and bold flavors this summer.
  • More than a quarter of people in Los Angeles (29%), Baltimore/D.C. (27%) and Houston (26%) say they expect to snack more this summer compared to a typical, pre-pandemic summer.
  • Summer activities differ across markets as the world begins to open up. Los Angeles shows strong interest in spending more time among other people at restaurants, sporting events and concerts, while Dallas shows interest in spending more time outdoors this summer (63%).

"The pandemic has caused companies to find creative ways to meet consumer snacking demand," said Elizabeth Avery, president and chief executive of SNAC International, the global trade association representing the snack food industry.

"We have seen drastic shifts in consumer preferences and habits – from the flavors and types of snacks consumers choose to how snacks are making it to their doorstep," she continued. "As we approach Memorial Day and beyond, we can expect some behaviors learned in the pandemic to become a mainstay."


[Credit: Office of Gov. Ned Lamont]
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