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Americans Cannot Stop Snacking

Americans Cannot Stop Snacking
Photograph by Getty Images

Do you want a snack? Consumer research suggests that yes, you do. Sales of snack bars are up. Restaurant chains such as Starbucks have been changing their menus to capture the midafternoon snacking crowd. Food companies are delighted. “Clearly, snacking is a trend, a positive trend,” said General Mills Chief Executive Ken Powell during an earnings call in June. “We are very focused on the snacking trend.”

Given that a gazillion different kinds of snacks are already on the market (which may be one reason we’re snacking more), such companies as General Mills are eager to understand and exploit our snacking behaviors. In a new survey of 1,139 people by Nielsen, 91 percent of people said they snack daily, including 25 percent who snack three to five times a day and 3 percent who are “always snacking.” About 8 percent say they “always” binge snack, and another 31 percent do so occasionally.