CPG Marketing Trends: Americans Are Snacking More Between Meals

Are you eating something while reading this blog post? It wouldn’t be surprising. According to an article from Time.com, the habit of eating between meals has increased over the last 30 years. A new study published in PLoS Medicine finds that Americans have gone from eating an average of 3.8 meals and snacks a day in the 1970s, to now eating 4.9 times per day—a 29% increase.

Snacking has literally become the fourth meal of the day—props to Taco Bell for branding the daypart as such.

The bad news, however: this new mealtime accounts for an extra 580 calories per day. The study finds that many of these additional calories come from beverages and could be a contributing factor to the growing trend of obesity and our growing waistlines. Overall, on average, we now consume 2,375 calories per day, which is about one-third more than in the 1970s.

In a recent study conducted by consumer researchers Service Management Group, The Boston Consulting Group, and our agency Barkley, it was found that Millennials (ages 16-34) snack more frequently than other generations. Approximately 5% of Millennials surveyed indulge in a mid-afternoon snack, and Millennials are more than twice as likely as people 35+ to indulge in mid-afternoon and late-night snacks.

It is important to note, however, that snacking can be healthy and healthy snacking should be encouraged. Snacks that are high in fiber and low in sugar can be part of a healthy diet when combined with the appropriate amount of exercise and activity.

With snacking on the rise, especially with Millennials, portion control and healthy options for your consumers are key.

Photo credit: ginnerobot


Brad is an expert in private label and challenger brand food marketing for Barkley, an integrated marketing and advertising agency. He specializes in working with manufacturing-driven food companies that have aspirations to develop a consumer insight-led strategies to help drive innovation and growth.

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