Post-Pandemic Consumer Snacking Trends Still Shifting

The snack market is still making adjustments in response to post-pandemic changes in snacking trends, reports SNAC International, an international trade association of the snack food industry representing snack manufacturers and suppliers.

On-the-go snacks or snack packs are now being replaced with at-home snack options now that more consumers are working from home. As the kitchen is right around the corner from the home office, snacking frequency has more than doubled over the past few years, according to a study by SNAC International.

And Millennial and Gen Z customers are becoming more influential, especially as the latter acquires more buying power with age. David Walsh, President of Communications for SNAC International, says that these demographics are likelier to replace meals with snacks and graze throughout the day.

Whereas "snacks" used to mean cookies or chips, Walsh continues, the definition now includes packaged veggies, cereals, leftover meals, and much more. This means that there are more opportunities for innovation for companies looking to expand their snacking markets.

Savory snacks have become trendy; sales increased 5.5% in 2021 and 8.2% in 2020. And health-conscious consumers are seeking high-fiber, low-carbohydrate, and low-sugar snacks that include vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Walsh adds that homeopathic ingredients, such as cassava (a digestion aid) or ashwagandha (an immunity booster), are the types of ingredients more and more consumers are looking for in their snacks.

Meat snacks, pork rinds, jerky, fruit chips, cheese snacks, and tortilla chips have all also experienced better-than-average sales over the past year.

Additionally, buying snacks online has become much more popular in the wake of the pandemic. E-commerce snack shopping has grown 27% since the pandemic's beginning, and in 2020, it experienced a spike of more than 80%. Walsh adds that the snack-buying landscape is continuing to evolve, and that as the balance between work and life solidifies, so will the snack economy.

"Pre-pandemic, it was all about on-the-go, portability, convenience," Walsh told conference-goers at the PACK EXPO International in Chicago. "Now, with more working from home or even schooling from home, snacking from home has become really important."