The growth in snack foods being consumed at meal time are largely driven by single-person households and people who are eating those meals by themselves, confirms The NPD Group.
In 2014, annual per-capita instances of eating snack foods at meal times among solo diners was 191, versus 167 in 2011, according to NPD's new Snacking in America report. Across the U.S. population, that translates to represents a difference of billions of eating occasions.
The U.S. now has 38 million single-person households, so it's not surprising that this group has an impact on snacking, notes the report.
Like larger households, single-person households cite health and weight management as key motivators for eating snack foods at meals, and particularly better-for-you snack foods. The most common over-indexing motivator cited across the better-for-you snack categories was the accessibility of a single-serve package.
Like most other households, single-person households plan the snack foods that they will be eating at meals ahead of time — typically, more than a day before. A significantly smaller number of eating occasions include a snack food that was planned less than an hour before. Supermarkets tend to be the shopping outlets of choice for snack foods consumed as meals.
Given their significant and growing influence on snacking trends, solo diners' needs should be important in shaping snack products, packaging and marketing, summed up NPD food and beverage analyst Darren Seifer.