The definition of snacking is continuously evolving; it is no longer constrained to just moments of indulgence. Jeff Fromm from Forbes shares Nielsen’s most recent global survey of snacking, Snack Attack, which states that snacking will grow to be a $375 billion worldwide industry. There are many reasons people snack, but globally, two themes are prominent: enjoyment, or to satisfy hunger or cravings, and nutrition, snacking for nutritional reasons.

Brad Hana, an expert in consumer packaged goods, has studied the industry and has noticed similar trends emerging among a millennial audience that align with the Nielson findings. Millennial consumers are now shifting their mindset towards snacking for the purpose of healthy, mindful eating, Forbes reported.

While Millennials aren’t the only consumers changing the snacking landscape, they do play a large role in the future of snacking and, as parents, they greatly influence how the next generation will define it as well. In the United States, there are 11.6 million Millennial households with children. Everyday, these parents are making decisions in the grocery aisle and at-home that will impact what snacks their family is eating, Forbes reported.

Snacks that are low-prep and prepackaged meal replacements with little to no clean up are in high demand. High-protein snack choices like lean meat, nuts and granola bars are generating more buzz in the social health world. And snacks such as fruits and veggies are replacing snacks with higher fat and sugar content, Forbes reported.

The NPD Group’s National Eating Trends® reports states that bars, nuts, yogurt and chips as in-home snack meals are trending at an all time high. Sweet and savory treats such as candy bars or potatoes chips are not going away, however. Nielsen’s study offers a snapshot of current snack trends in North America with chips and chocolate still as front-runners. However, healthier options like cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables are making up a large percentage of favorite snack choices, Forbes reported.

As parents, Millennials are evolving the decision making process to include their children. Millennial parents are increasingly becoming more concerned about what their children are eating, and healthier options are becoming increasingly more popular, changing the taste preferences of many young children, Forbes reported.

Millennial Food Trends

  • Millennials look for brands that provide adventure and experiences. When it comes to food, they are looking for new flavor adventures. Brands that can deliver on food trends such as high-protein and health conscious options alongside exciting flavor trends will win with Millennial consumers.
  • Millennials turn to digital devices for information about the food they are buying. They learn about brands online for a number of reasons including learning about the brand and products they want to engage with. In-store education can no longer be the norm.
  • Snacking occasions are evolving, many becoming small meal replacements for Millennials and their children. Busy, on-the-go lifestyles create a demand for quick, nutritional meals. From easy-to-open packaging to pre-sliced and low-prep options, brands that can deliver convenient selections will continue to rise alongside the growing Millennial generation.

Millennials actively educate themselves on products, brands, pricing and nutritional information. Greater access to the internet has opened doors to this generation that previous consumers never had the opportunity to enter. Brands, especially food brands, must now act in a completely transparent way as modern consumers are able to pin point exactly what ingredients were used when making the product, where they were from and what additives (if any) were used. With this information at their fingertips, these consumers are able to make more educated purchase decisions than ever before especially when it comes to snacking and quick meal fixes, Forbes reported.