A Closer Look At Snacking

Nine Out of Ten School Snacks Brought from Home; Fresh Fruit Among Most Popular In-School Snacks Teens & Millennials Most Likely to Consume Just-Bought Snacks

School bells are ringing again and along with the daily bundle of books and school supplies are the all-important snacks. According to snacking research by The NPD Group, students aged 6 to 12 consume 4.1 snack-oriented convenience foods daily in and out of school, and teens 13 to 17 consume 3.8 snacks daily. NPD’s SnackTrack®, which tracks all snacking occasions in- and away-from-home every day of the year, reports that 90 percent of school snacks are brought from home.

The most popular school snacks, whether eaten at lunch or at snack time, vary by age group, and often the variation is due to when there is a parental influence and when there is not. In the case of 6 to 12 year-olds, an age when parents often choose the foods and beverages their children eat, fresh fruit, fruit cups/applesauce, potato chips, meal kits and yogurt are the top school snacks, according to NPD’s SnackTrack.

Teens, who tend to make their own food choices, include gum, fresh fruit, potato chips, chocolate bars/candy bars, and granola bars among their most popular school snacks. For both age groups, sandwiches are still the reigning school lunch entrée and are included in two-thirds of school brown bag lunches.

“Snack foods are increasingly becoming a part of the lunch bag carried by children to school, just like snack foods are becoming part of main meals for all of us,” says Harry Balzer, NPD chief industry analyst and author of Eating Patterns in America. “The bottom line is that we don’t want to prepare foods more often. We don’t even want to make more sandwiches for our kid’s lunch bag, even though sandwiches are still the number one lunch bag item carried by a kid. Instead, we are loading the kids’ lunch bag with easy-to-prepare snack products to be eaten at lunchtime.”

Snacks Purchased By Teens And Millennials Most Often Bought Instant Consumables

When it comes to snack foods, purchasing these items for immediate consumption represents more than 30 billion eating occasions annually. Teens and young Millennials — those between the ages of 18 and 24 — are the most inclined toward this type of instant gratification.

Between lunch and dinner, followed by lunchtime, are the top occasions during the day when teens are consuming items just purchased. For young Millennials, they are most often consuming these items at lunchtime, followed by the morning meal. At two out of three occasions, both teens and young adults also consume a beverage with their snack items.

The Bottom Line

Progress can be made toward a goal of capturing a larger share of this “buy and consume” behavior with an understanding of the consumer dynamics that drive these purchases. For programs at retail, consider recommending a rotation of the types of items stocked near the entrance or check-out counter to align with the consumer need by the time of day.

This will align with the consumer need by the time of day. For example, display bagels, fruit, and granola bars in the morning, salty snacks, and candy in the afternoon. And don’t forget the beverage; co-marketing could increase the basket size for these shoppers.

The Port Washington, NY-based NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food/foodservice, home, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. For more information, visit npd.com.

About SnackTrack®

Every day, consumers in the U.S. report their snack food consumption to NPD, resulting in information on over 350,000 snack occasions per year.