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Trends in Snacking and Value Menus in Restaurants - US - June 2013

“Consumers are shifting the way they use foodservice. Instead of large meals, they are tending to snack more. This is a reflection of the economy, as well as their focus on health concerns. Consumers are also using snacking as a way to socialize, choosing snacks rather than meals and sharing items. Understanding how consumers are using restaurants in terms of what they are ordering, from where, and what else they would like to see on the menu can help restaurants remain competitive. Finding the right balance of price, health, and item type to meet the social and other snacking needs is keeping restaurants up at night.”

– Bethany Wall, Foodservice Analyst

Some questions answered in this report include:

  • How to meet the needs of consumers as they shift toward a snack culture
  • How socialization affects menu offerings and how items are consumed
  • How health impacts restaurant snacking in terms of items and usage
  • The price value proposition that attracts patrons and drives consumption

Snacking has become a part of consumers’ daily routines due to an increasingly on-the-go lifestyle, coupled with a tendency toward smaller, more frequent meals. Due to the changing definition of “snack,” beverages and mini-meals consisting of a few sides have brought drinks, sides, and desserts into the spotlight. Also, with an increased focus on health, better-for-you items bring soups and salads into play as well as an opportunity for healthful spins on more indulgent items that including healthier ingredients and controlled portion sizes.

As consumers continue to grapple with the weak economy, restaurants must find ways to draw in consumers. Price versus value proposition is the key in attracting consumers and restaurants must find a balance. Additionally, consumers are increasingly interested in sharable items, seeking variety and customizability, creating a more interactive and social dining experience.

This report explores snacking trends and opportunities within the foodservice space, by understanding the current marketplace, revealing competitive developments, uncovering marketing techniques and innovative technologies that restaurant operators can utilize, viewing snack trends on restaurant menus, and featuring consumer behavior and attitudes.

Among the topics covered in this report are:

  • How key marketplace issues and market drivers are impacting snacking at restaurants
  • Innovative snacking trends, including items and technology that operators are currently implementing
  • Menu trends by price point, and how operators are marketing these snack and value offerings
  • Snack usage by type of restaurant, including order type as well as LSR and FSR breakout
  • Types of snacks typically ordered, as well as items consumers would like to see added to menus
  • Reasons consumers visit restaurants for snacks, and changes in behavior compared to last year
  • Attitudes toward snacking at restaurants, including demographic breakouts that reveal opportunities

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Mintel Menu Insights
            • Consumer survey data
              • Advertising creative
                • Abbreviations and terms
                  • Abbreviations
                    • Terms
                    • Executive Summary

                        • The market
                          • Figure 1: U.S. Consumer expenditures for snacks at restaurants, sales and fan chart forecast of market, at current prices, 2007-17
                        • Market drivers
                          • Opportunities
                            • Menu strategies
                              • Figure 2: Segment breakdown of menu items priced $0.99 or less, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                              • Figure 3: Top 10 menu items priced $0.99 or less, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                            • The consumer
                              • Figure 4: Desired snack additions at restaurants, March 2013
                              • Figure 5: Drivers for snacking at restaurants, March 2013
                            • Consumer attitudes
                              • Figure 6: Agreement with attitudes toward snacking at restaurants, March 2013
                            • What we think
                            • Issues and Insights

                                • How to meet the needs of consumers as they shift toward a snack culture
                                  • The issues
                                    • The implications
                                      • How socialization affects menu offerings and how items are consumed
                                        • The issues
                                          • The implications
                                            • How health impacts restaurant snacking in terms of items and usage
                                              • The issues
                                                • The implications
                                                  • The price value proposition that attracts patrons and drives consumption
                                                    • The issues
                                                      • The implications
                                                      • Innovators and Innovations

                                                          • Sauce customization
                                                            • Better-for-you items
                                                              • On-the-go options
                                                                • Small plates and sharable items
                                                                  • Late-night snacking
                                                                  • Dollar and Value Menus

                                                                    • Technology

                                                                      • 2012 technology trends
                                                                        • Mobile apps
                                                                        • Trend Applications

                                                                            • Trend: Minimize Me
                                                                            • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                              • Foodservice snacking sales and forecast of market
                                                                                  • Figure 7: Total U.S. foodservice snack sales and forecast of market, at current prices, 2007-17
                                                                                  • Figure 8: Total U.S. foodservice snack sales and forecast of market, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2007-17
                                                                                • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                    • Figure 9: U.S. Consumer expenditures for snacks at restaurants, sales and fan chart forecast of market, at current prices, 2007-17
                                                                                • Market Drivers

                                                                                    • Economic indicators
                                                                                      • Government legislation
                                                                                        • Obesity and diabetes
                                                                                          • Rising commodity prices
                                                                                            • Younger consumers lead the snacking initiative
                                                                                            • Competitive Context

                                                                                                • Grocery stores
                                                                                                  • Convenience stores
                                                                                                    • Food trucks
                                                                                                      • Kiosks and walk-ups
                                                                                                      • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                                        • Overview of the brand landscape
                                                                                                          • Television advertisements
                                                                                                            • McDonald’s
                                                                                                              • Sharable Limited-time Offers
                                                                                                                • Figure 10: McDonald’s television ad, June 2012
                                                                                                              • Side Items in the Spotlight
                                                                                                                • Figure 11: McDonald’s television ad, January 2013
                                                                                                              • $3 Value Meals
                                                                                                                • Figure 12: McDonald’s television ad, February 2013
                                                                                                              • Breakfast Value Menu Items
                                                                                                                • Figure 13: McDonald’s television ad, January 2013
                                                                                                              • Sharing Multiple Ways
                                                                                                                • Figure 14: McDonald’s television ad, January 2013
                                                                                                              • Extra Value Menu
                                                                                                                • Figure 15: McDonald’s television ad, July 2012
                                                                                                              • Discounting
                                                                                                                • Entertainment advertising
                                                                                                                  • Sweepstakes and samples
                                                                                                                    • Billboard advertising
                                                                                                                      • Figure 16: New York City Health Department portion size billboard, January 2012
                                                                                                                    • Social media
                                                                                                                        • Figure 17: Snack usage by type of restaurant, by visits of social media websites, March 2013
                                                                                                                    • Menu Analysis – Snack Strategies

                                                                                                                        • Quick service restaurants
                                                                                                                          • Fast casual restaurants and coffeehouses
                                                                                                                            • Casual dining restaurants
                                                                                                                            • Menu Insights Analysis – Value Pricing

                                                                                                                              • Economy menu level ($0.99 or less)
                                                                                                                                • Figure 18: Segment breakdown of menu items priced $0.99 or less, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                                • Figure 19: Menu section of menu items priced $0.99 or less, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                                • Figure 20: Top 10 menu items priced $0.99 or less, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                              • Dollar menu level ($1-1.99)
                                                                                                                                • Figure 21: Segment breakdown for menu items priced $1-1.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                                • Figure 22: Menu section of menu items priced $1-1.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                                • Figure 23: Top 10 menu items priced $1-1.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                              • Value menu level ($2-3.99)
                                                                                                                                • Figure 24: Segment breakdown of menu items priced $2-3.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                                • Figure 25: Menu sections of menu items priced $2-3.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                                • Figure 26: Top 10 menu items priced $2-3.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                              • Extra value menu level ($4-5.99)
                                                                                                                                • Figure 27: Segment breakdown for menu items priced $4-5.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                                • Figure 28: Menu section for menu items priced $4-5.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                                • Figure 29: Top 10 menu items priced $4-5.99, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                            • Snack Usage by Type of Restaurant

                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                • Quick service and casual dining restaurants are most popular for snacking
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 30: Snack usage by type of restaurant, by gender, March 2013
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 31: Snack usage by type of restaurant, by age, March 2013
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Snack usage by type of restaurant, by household income, March 2013
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 33: Snack usage by type of restaurant, by Hispanic origin, March 2013
                                                                                                                                • Changes in Snacking Behavior at Restaurants

                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                    • Half of respondents have maintained similar snacking behavior to last year
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Changes in snacking behavior at restaurants, March 2013
                                                                                                                                    • Women are budget- and health-conscious snackers
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 35: More changes in snacking behavior at restaurants, by gender, March 2013
                                                                                                                                    • Young consumers are the most likely to have increased snacking behavior
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 36: More changes in snacking behavior at restaurants, by age, March 2013
                                                                                                                                    • Hispanics increased the number of items purchased per snack occasion
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 37: More changes in snacking behavior at restaurants, by Hispanic origin, March 2013
                                                                                                                                  • Snacks Ordered at Restaurants

                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                      • Sides, appetizers, and caffeinated drinks are used most often for snacks
                                                                                                                                        • Women prefer small, healthy items while men prefer to snack on entrées
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 38: Types of snacks typically ordered, by gender, March 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Younger consumers prefer healthy drinks and appetizers as snacks
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 39: Types of snacks typically ordered, by age, March 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Hispanics are more likely to order desserts and healthy drinks as snacks
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 40: Types of snacks typically ordered, by Hispanic origin, March 2013
                                                                                                                                      • Desired Snack Additions at Restaurants

                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                          • Women want healthy, calorie-restricted items in a variety of portion sizes
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Desired snack additions at restaurants, by gender, March 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Younger consumers seek customized, energy-boosting, sharable snacks
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 42: Desired snack additions at restaurants, by age, March 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Drivers for Snacking at Restaurants

                                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                                            • Women snack to socialize, while men snack when bored or time-crunched
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Drivers for snacking at restaurants, by gender, March 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Young consumers let others dictate snack visits and get energy boosts
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Drivers for snacking at restaurants, by age, March 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Hispanics use snacks as meal replacements and like to try new items
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 45: Drivers for snacking at restaurants, by Hispanic origin, March 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Attitudes toward Snacking at Restaurants

                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                              • Consumers are concerned with health and price for restaurant snacks
                                                                                                                                                • Women are concerned with health and budget, while men want hot snacks
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 46: Agreement with Attitudes toward snacking at restaurants, by gender, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                • Younger consumers snack more and seek healthful and sharable items
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 47: Agreement with Attitudes toward snacking at restaurants, by age, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                • Affluent consumers want healthy items, low-income consumers seek value
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 48: Agreement with Attitudes toward snacking at restaurants, by household income, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                • Hispanics want more kids’, midmorning, and multiple-piece snacks
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 49: Agreement with Attitudes toward snacking at restaurants, by Hispanic origin, March 2013
                                                                                                                                              • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                                                                  • Cluster 1: Status Quos
                                                                                                                                                    • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                      • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                        • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                          • Snack Attackers: Snack Attackers
                                                                                                                                                            • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                              • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                  • Cluster 3: Meh Maxs
                                                                                                                                                                    • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                      • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                        • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                          • Cluster 4: Average Joes
                                                                                                                                                                            • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                              • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                • Cluster 5: Health Nuts
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Cluster characteristic tables
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 50: Target clusters, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 51: Snack usage by type of restaurant, by target clusters, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 52: More changes in snacking behavior at restaurants, by target clusters, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 53: Types of snacks typically ordered, by target clusters, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 54: Desired snack additions at restaurants, by target clusters, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 55: Drivers for snacking at restaurants, by target clusters, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 56: Agreement with Attitudes toward snacking at restaurants, by target clusters, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Cluster demographic tables
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 57: Target clusters, by demographic, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Additional Tables

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 58: More changes in snacking behavior at restaurants, by household income, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 59: Drivers for snacking at restaurants, by household income, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 60: Types of snacks typically ordered, by household income, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 61: Desired snack additions at restaurants, by household income, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 62: Desired snack additions at restaurants, by Hispanic origin, March 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market Drivers

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Consumer confidence
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 63: University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment (ICS), 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Unemployment
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 64: U.S. unemployment rate, by month, 2002-13
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 65: U.S. Unemployment and underemployment rates, 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 66: Number of employed civilians in U.S., in thousands, 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Food cost pressures
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 67: Changes in USDA Food Price Indexes, 2011 through April 25, 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Obesity
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 68: U.S. obesity, by age group, 2008 and 2012
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Childhood and teen obesity—highest in decades
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 69: Prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2-19, 1971-2010
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Racial, ethnic population growth
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 70: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2008, 2013, and 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 71: Households with children, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2012
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Shifting U.S. demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 72: Population, by age, 2008-18
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 73: Households, by presence of own children, 2002-12
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                                                          Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Auntie Anne's, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Burger King Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Church's Chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Food and Drug Administration
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Google, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                          • KFC Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                          • McDonald's U.S.A.
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Twitter, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                          • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Trends in Snacking and Value Menus in Restaurants - US - June 2013

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