Between-Meal Snacking at All-Time High: Study  1/15/2016

Snacking between meals was at an all-time high in 2015 with two-thirds of adults over the age of 18 (155 million people) claiming to often snack between meals, according to survey data published in the recent Packaged Facts report Sweet Baked Goods: U.S. Market Trends. For many Americans, especially younger ones, snacks have even replaced traditional meals throughout the day. Reinforcing the changing nature of meal consumption is the fact that roughly 40% of adults say they eat several small meals throughout the day compared to almost 35% in 2005.

“The market is mature with growth challenged by health and diet concerns, changing snacking choices and an increasing desire for fresh rather than packaged foods,” says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. “But there are opportunities for growth as consumers snack smarter even when indulging by choosing sweet goods designed for ‘grab and go’ snacking or products designed to minimize calorie count without overtly sacrificing the flavors familiar to customers.”

But what foods are these snackers choosing? More than a quarter of Americans (30%) claim to usually only snack on healthy foods. Likewise, almost half (45%) claim that nutritional value is the most important factor in the foods they eat. Yet even as consumers seek to be healthy, there is the pervasive desire to indulge in treats they know aren’t good for them—though when possible they want and seek out healthier or ‘better for you’ versions of their favorite treats.

This sustained desire to seek out comfort snacks—from cookies to cakes to doughnuts—has allowed the market for packaged sweet baked goods to continue to thrive in today’s health-focused climate. Sales reached $20 billion in 2014 and will uptick by a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 3% to reach $23 billion in 2019. Although other product categories are more suited to healthier formulations, sweet baked goods manufacturers have responded with products formulated to reduce sodium, sugar and fat, eliminate high fructose corn syrup and trans fats. Products continue to be launched that are more natural, organic, and gluten-free, or include more beneficial ingredients such as whole and multi-grains, fiber, seeds and fruit.

Cookies are typically the sweet baked treat of choice, with nearly three quarters of U.S. households eating them. Most households eat regular cookies while only a small percentage eat reduced fat/low fat or sugar free most often. Chocolate chip cookies are America’s favorites with soft preferred by more people than crunchy versions. Bite-sized cookies have grown in popularity as more people are eating “minis” or portion-controlled sizes.

Sweet Baked Goods: U.S. Market Trends presents a detailed analysis of the U.S. consumer market for packaged sweet baked goods sold in retail outlets, excluding independent and in-store bakeries. It outlines key issues and trends affecting the overall market and analyzes all product categories including shelf-stable, refrigerated, and frozen products as well as segments that include cookies, cakes, pies, bakery snacks, doughnuts, muffins, pastry/Danish/coffee cake, cheesecakes and toaster pastries/tarts.

Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, consumer packaged goods, and pet products and services. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services. 

Or contact Sarah Davidson, SVP of Grocery: 440-542-3033

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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