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Consumers’ snacking trends & preferences increase snack food business globally

Three dimensional (3D) traditional meals a day is a dining habit of the past. Today busy consumers, especially Millennials, are transforming into other habits or seeking methods to supplement their nutritional necessities. This is one of the reasons new startups and big brands considering entering the snack food business and taking advantage of the trend. The present trend of snacks foods preferred by consumers is “corn puffs, kurkure, fried extruded snacks, pellets chips, potato chips, banana chips, namkeen, fried matar (green peas), popcorn, caramel popcorn, tortilla chips, corn tortilla chips”, and others as per regional and local tastes.

When the line is not cleared between traditional meals and snacks, consumers benefit from snacks that have nutritional value and help meet their daily nutritional needs. For example, a product seen as a treat could also serve as a good source of carbohydrate, protein, and required fat. Benefits from high-quality snack foods also include emotional wellness, nutritional requirements, functional outcome, and help facilitate social outlets.

Young and children in India and worldwide are crazy when it comes to snacking and its varieties. Though Indians are known for diverse cultures, and regional diversity the one thing which keeps them going is love for a variety of snacks from each culture, region, and state. So snacks food is considered as unity in regional food diversity or in other words “India is divided by states, united by snacks”.

Snacking Trends & Preference in Consumers

snacking trends

The trend in snack food consumption has increased dramatically in recent times with the global snack food industry itself projected to grow in double-digit by 2024. The Indian snack market will be in boom with more than INR 1 Billion by the end of 2024. The future of India’s Snacks Market will also grow with double-digit CAGR for the time frame of 2018 to 2024.

The driving consumer segment comes from the millennial population with a push toward hunger, variety, flavor/taste, health, raw ingredients, organics, reduced carbohydrate content, branding, quantitative and qualitative packaging as the largest trends in snack food preferences.

Hunger Frequency Across Consumers’ Age Group

The hunger of consumers plays one of the most important roles for adapting to snacking frequently instead of 3D meals. In other words, “how frequent consumers become hungry.” According to Mintel survey report, one-quarter of 18-34 year-olds are always hungry. Moreover, 17 percent of 18-24 year-olds report that they do not have time for a meal to overcome their hunger, so they go for snack food. However, 15 percent of snackers are always hungry. As a result, snacks ease hunger craving and are easy to go for quick satisfaction. 75 percent of millennial consumers consider whether a snack satisfies hunger when purchasing a particular snack. Thus, hunger frequency and its solution increase the scope for snack food business and so new startups prefer it.

Almost all (94 percent) of adults in the U.S. snack daily. Faster, easier, and efficient ways of consuming food have been essential. Therefore snack food producers are positioned to help meet the nutritional needs of busy consumers too for the sustainability of their business.

Frequency Trends of Snacking

Food Packaging Machine

Mintel’s “Snacking Motivations and Attitudes” report agrees that consumer snack frequency is increasing. According to the report, “95% of US adults snack once daily, and 70% do so 2+ times per day, and the percentage of ‘super snackers’, who snack 4+ times per day, is increasing.” Snacks account for a whopping 51% of all food sales, and 92% of adults in the United States have snacked within the last 24 hours.

 Plant-based Ingredients Preference

The plant-based (protein) ingredients such as pea, collagen, brown rice, nuts, and seeds snack food trend has driven the consumers’ preference over carbohydrate-based snacks. These snacks provide additional fiber and vitamins, alongside the benefit of protein and so consumers prefer its importance to their overall health and well-being.

Snacks Variety Preference

fast food making machine

Namkeen has the Highest Market Share in India Snacks Market. The segment of branded is expanding at a rate of approx. 15% per annum, whereas the entire market is growing at a rate of 7-8 percent.

Snacks flavor and taste trends

In a FONA publication, flavors for snack foods spanned not only a trend toward those associated with health foods but traditional, indulgent focused flavors as well. The writer noted a range of flavors like “chocolate, honey, fruit, almond & nut, frosted sugar, cashew and ginger” as being “among the top and emerging flavors in the category.” The 2018 FONA trend report also noted that millennial consumers also gravitate toward global and exotic-sounding flavors like sriracha and acai berry when reaching for snack foods over more traditional flavors.

Healthy snacks preference

Food Processing machine

The healthy snacks market size in the USA will be worth $32.88 billion by 2025 as projected in a market survey report.

A healthy snack case study in the Technomic Snacking Occasion Report indicates that over half of millennial consumers i.e. 51% prefer all-natural, non-GMO, high protein snacks.

Millennial mothers are setting a good example for their children by educating them on the differences between non-healthy and healthy snacks. More than two-thirds of millennial mothers state their children are aware of the differences. As a result, 55% of children of millennial parents are more likely to consume a healthy snack product.

According to a publication by Grandview Research, Inc., cereal and nut bars continue to make up the largest segment of the global healthy snack food market at 33.5%.

Organic Snack Foods Preference

The organic snack food trend has seen staggering development in recent years with millennial consumers’ preference for it. According to a trend report published by FONA International, “52% of organic consumers are millennials.” Millennial customers are also increasingly seeking out organic labels, with 47% of them stating that they are purchasing more foods labeled organic in 2018 than they were last year. An additional “27% of millennials” say “they trust that foods labeled organic are organic.” This same report noted that over half of respondents equate organic foods with healthier foods, making it a food label bearing a large influence in the snack food industry.

Snack Delivery Services Reach to Public

Snack delivery services are an emerging trend and could be more significant in the future with eCommerce players like Amazon, Flipcart, and other locals coming in the field. Currently, only 5 percent of snacks are sold online. This could be seen as a supplement to snack acquisition, especially in the healthy snack category.

IRI reports that online snack dollar sales grew by 46% year over year in March 2020. During the period of January 20 to April 5, 2020, the largest growing snack segment was “kernel popcorn and frozen cookies, which saw dollar sales grow by 38.3% and 34.5%, respectively, as consumers want convenience with homemade results.”

Increasing trends for gluten-free snack foods

In 2006, gluten-free foods in the United States made $0.9 billion in sales, and this has increased to $23.9 billion by 2020. The category of gluten-free foods increased by 136% from 2013 to the year 2015 and reached $11.6 billion. The embrace of gluten-free foods is increasing because of the rise in the number and flavor of the gluten-free dough in recent years. Ancient gluten-free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, and faro are also an increasing trend in restaurants.

Local Brand Snack Food Preferences

There is a new trend in the snack food movement called “locavores” where consumers base their purchasing decision on the source of the food and prefer locally grown food. According to a survey by A. T. Kearney, 96 percent of U.S. consumers describe local snack food as products grown or produced within 100 miles from the point of sale. According to the market research firm Packaged Facts, the local foods market generated $11.7 billion in sales in 2014 and will climb to $20.2 billion by 2019.

Small is the new big in snack packaging

snack packaging machine

Snack-size. 100-calorie packs. Single-serve. All of these snack packaging formats have one thing in common: They were created to attract and appease a consumer that desires easy, portable, pre-portioned snack foods. We now live in a world of ‘snackification’, with many consumers replacing large meals with snacks, grazing throughout the day. The snack food industry has responded enthusiastically with smaller packages of consumer favorites.


The increasing trend towards snack foods is a solution to the many needs of modern consumers in general and millennials in particular, whether between meals or as their replacement. Thus, snack food mainly (corn puffs, kurkure, fried extruded snacks, pellets chips, potato chips, banana chips, namkeen, fried matar (green peas), popcorn, caramel popcorn, tortilla chips, corn tortilla chips) has been a dynamic and versatile market for new businesses in the food industry.