Indulgent Snack Food Is Making A Comeback By Walking The Line Between Health And Enjoyment

June 5, 2019

Chicago, May 29, 2019 —U.S. consumers are giving themselves permission to enjoy indulgent snacks, reports The NPD Group. Their permission to enjoy savory and sweet snacks is the result of the wellness-driven acknowledgement that balance is the key. Brands are supporting their consumers’ quest for balance by offering snacks that walk the line between health and indulgence, like portion-control packs, thinner versions, or nutrient-enhanced savory and sweet snacks, finds NPD’s recently released Future of Snacking report. 

“The role of snack food is changing in different ways in reaction to Americans’ desire for balance, portable snack foods, and holistic wellness,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “It’s no longer about depriving yourself of something you enjoy eating. Today it’s about giving yourself permission to eat indulgent snack foods in moderation.”

Permissible snack indulgence for most consumers tends to be later in the day, either as a dinner or late evening snack. However, the NPD Future of Snacking study finds that indulgence has been growing in the morning whereas midday and dinnertime indulgent snacking has been declining or flat. Makes sense, says NPD, since breakfast tends to be an on-the-go behavior and snack foods offer the speed and portability needed in the morning. 

Overall, snack food eating occasions driven by a need for favorites, cravings, or the need to reward oneself, which typically involve the more indulgent snack foods, will continue to grow over the next five years, reports NPD. Consumers over 40, Gen Xers, and younger Boomers will drive the growth in snacks like nuts and seeds, cereal bars, toaster pastry, and meat snacks, and older Boomers are going for it with higher consumption of chocolate candy, frozen novelties, and ice cream.

“A wide range of savory, sweet, and better-for-you snack foods are now permissible in almost any situation,” says Portalatin. “Snack food manufacturers have figured out ways to offer the permission to enjoy.”


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