More Consumers Prefer Snacking Over Traditional Mealtimes

Mondelēz International released its third annual State of Snacking report, a global consumer trends study examining year-over-year insights on how consumers make their snack choices.

This year’s report shows mindfulness and well-being considerations are increasingly important in snacking, said the company in a press release. The report also confirms that consumers prefer snacking as a regular eating behavior over traditional mealtime for the third consecutive year (64 percent today, up 5 percent since inaugural findings reported in 2019). This trending preference spikes among younger generations, with 75 percent of Gen Z replacing at least one meal each day with a snack.

The 2021 State of Snacking report, developed in partnership with The Harris Poll, was conducted among thousands of consumers across 12 countries. According to Mondelēz International, the findings demonstrate the expanded meaning of eating snacks in consumers’ lives, reinforcing the company’s ongoing strategy to become the global leader in snacking by offering the right refreshment, for the right moment, made the right way.

Key findings include:

  • Expanded definition: Nearly 80% of consumers globally say their definition of a snack has evolved over the last 3 years to include more or different types of foods, occasions for eating, or other elements.
  • Beyond nutrition: 85% of consumers eat at least one snack per day for indulgence, 88% say a balanced diet can include a little indulgence, and 74% say they can’t imagine a world without chocolate.
  • Integrating purchasing decisions with values: 85% of consumers worldwide want to buy refreshments from companies offsetting their environmental footprint.
  • Expanding snacking experiences through social connectivity: More than half of people globally say social media has inspired them to try a new snack over the past year.

Furthermore, consumers are seeking snacks that deliver a range of benefits beyond physical well-being and nutrition needs.

Consumers’ habits indicate both sustenance and indulgence are part of a balanced lifestyle, with 85% of consumers now eating at least one snack for sustenance and one snack for indulgence each day.

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Additionally, snacking continues to serve as a vehicle for emotional well-being, with nearly eight in 10 global consumers agreeing that some refreshments should be just for enjoyment or satisfaction, without worrying too much about nutrition (79%).

Mindfulness and values-centric consumption also are increasingly top of mind, as 86% of consumers believe in the importance of control over their choices through portion size options and ingredient transparency.

“Our report found that the definition of snacking is evolving among consumers globally, which is reshaping the meaning of snacking within people’s lives,” said Dirk Van de Put, Chairman and CEO of Mondelēz International.

“Snacking is much more than a source of nutrition and indulgence; it also is a source of social connection and inspiration for broadened experiences. Notably, consumers continue to prefer snacking occasions throughout the day over traditional mealtime – as this growing behavior, accelerated by the ongoing pandemic, increasingly becomes part of daily life. That’s why we are proud to continue offering the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way,” Van de Put added.

Additional findings:

Seeking snacks on demand

  • Consumers are experimenting with new channels to buy refreshments, with more than half reporting shopping for snacks using at least three nontraditional or emerging channels in the last year (53%). These channels include delivery apps, online ordering for curbside or in-store pickup, and direct-to-consumer websites.
  • Majorities of global consumers expect to be able to buy the refreshments they want whenever they want (80%) and using any channel they want (74%). This trend is especially strong in Asia and Latin America.

Snacking with a purpose

  • Consumers are growing more intentional about their purchase decisions as they become more in touch with their values. They are making more of an effort to learn more about the brands or companies they buy from and becoming more discerning over the sustainable nature of the snacks they choose.
  • Reducing waste is top of mind, as consumers say the number one environmental impact on their food choices is availability of low waste packaging (78%).

Social media as an inspiration

  • Social media is a rising source of discovery as consumers increasingly find food trends, inspiration, and connection on their feeds.
  • More than half of global consumers (55%) say social media has inspired them to try a new snack in the past year, including even greater majorities of Gen Zs (70%) and millennials (71%).

This survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Mondelēz International from October 5-27, 2021, among 3,055 adults globally ages 18 and older. The research spanned 12 markets: The United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, Germany, The United Kingdom, Russia, China, India, Indonesia, and Australia.

Other key groups analyzed include Gen Z / centennials ages 18-24, Millennials ages 25-40, Gen Xers ages 41-56, Boomers ages 57-75, and the Silent Generation ages 76+.