More snack companies are looking to enter the premium snack category as the popularity of evening at-home snacking continues to grow. Walkers had immediate success with its Sensations snacks range and now Danone's UK bakery business Jacob's wants a piece of the action.

Jacob's is launching a new range of crackers, JacoBites, which will be positioned more as a premium snack than a cracker. The range is available in three flavours - Tempting Tandoori, Passionately Pizza and Blazing BBQ. The snack is available in a bag that can be free standing - a format chosen to encourage grazing, particularly in social situations. Jacob's is aiming the snack at those who like to eat snacks in the evenings, particularly when watching TV or films.

The increased activity in premium and 'sharing' snack launches is aimed at targeting evening snacking - the only eating occasion that will experience more growth at home than out of the home. Although at-home dinners are in decline, snacking in the home is set to increase over the period 2002-07. European consumers snacked at home (in the evening) an average of 5.4 times per week in 2002. This is set to rise to 5.6 times per week over the next five years.

Snacking at home is strongly driven by the frequency with which people eat whilst watching television. 96% of Europeans snack in front of the TV and 94% do so when they rent a film. Many consumers are not aware of how much they eat in front of the TV or how often they do this. The growth of large tub and grab pack formats are perfectly poised to capitalise on this sort of inattentive eating. Hence Jacob's keenness to develop a large bag format for sharing, or just to eat on your own in front of the television.

When consumers do stay in, many like to make an 'occasion' of it and are willing to trade up to premium goods. This is a large part of the reason why snack companies are keen to premiumise their offerings. As lifestyles become increasingly individualised and hectic, snacking is becoming a more familiar part of our eating repertoire and doing so at home is no different.

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