For many Americans, especially younger ones, snacks have replaced traditional meals throughout the day. Roughly 40 percent of adults say they eat several small meals throughout the day compared to almost 35 percent in 2005. Snacking between meals reached an all-time high in 2015 with two-thirds of adults over the age of 18 claiming they snack frequently between meals, according to survey data published in the recent Packaged Facts report, “Sweet Baked Goods: U.S. Market Trends.”
This “eating on the go” trend has made the break room a key part of employees’ lives.
But what foods are these snackers choosing? More than a quarter of Americans (30%) claim to usually snack on healthy foods. Likewise, almost half (45%) claim nutritional value is the most important factor in the foods they eat.
Yet even as New York City consumers seek to be healthy, there is the pervasive desire to indulge in treats they know aren’t always good for them. Once a while, even the most health-conscious person likes to take a break from their health regimen and treat themselves to a snack that is higher in fat and/or calories. This is one reason why some indulgent snacks are among the top sellers in the vending machine.
Sales of “comfort snacks” — from cookies to cakes to doughnuts — reached $20 billion in 2014 and will rise by a projected compound annual growth rate of almost 3 percent to reach $23 billion in 2019.
These disparate tendencies – the commitment to a healthy diet and the desire to indulge in less healthy treats – has given birth to a group of snacks seen as “indulgent” but are lower in calories than traditional high-calorie snacks.
When possible, consumers want healthier or “better for you” versions of their favorite treats.
Sweet baked goods manufacturers have responded to this shifting market with “comfort” products formulated to reduce sodium, sugar and fat, eliminate high fructose corn syrup and trans fats. These include products that are more natural, organic, and gluten-free, or include more beneficial ingredients such as whole and multi-grains, fiber, seeds and fruit.
“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 at 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.”
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 chocolate chip cookies preferred by more people than crunchy versions. Bite-sized cookies have grown in popularity as more people are eating “minis” or portion-controlled sizes.
The bottom line is that while New York City consumers are snacking more than ever, their tastes cover a wide range of products. Consumers want to follow healthy diets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to treat themselves to indulgent snacks.
Today’s refreshment service providers need to meet a more diverse set of consumer choices than ever.
For more information about healthy snack and beverage options in New York City contact your refreshment services provider, Healthy Vending at (917) 572.3671 to discuss your customized break room solution.