Snacking is a major source of nutrition for US consumers with the typical US consumer working his or her way through 231 morning snacks, 283 afternoon snacks and 261 evening snacks per year, according to a new report from independent market analyst Datamonitor.

The combined US spend for savoury snacks and confectionery – two core snack markets – was valued at US$45.6bn in 2005, growing 15% between 2000 and 2005, but growth for the next five years is forecast at just over 4%.

Children were pinpointed as some of America’s most frequent snack consumers in the report, with snacking frequencies peaking for 14-24 year olds – who snacked on an average of 878 occasions in 2005.

“Snacking is so ingrained in America’s eating habits that it has become a way of life rather than a trend,” said Daniel Bone, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.
Kids aged 6-13 were said to be among the most frequent snackers, consuming on average 840 snacks per year, equating to over two snacks per day. 

Datamonitor said the same trends can be observed in Europe, though snacking frequencies are higher in the US overall.

It also found that 61% of US consumers sought “food and drinks which are both convenient and healthy”, and more often in the period between July 2005 to July 2006 than hitherto.
“The fact that consumers no longer define “snack” with such strong reference to chocolate, sweets and crisps is one factor shaping the future of the snacking industry in both the US and Europe”, added Bone. “Traditional impulse categories such as confectionery and savoury snacks are under increasing threat from new product formats – especially those that consumers consider to be more nutritious.”