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US Snacking Motivations and Attitudes Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Snacking Motivations and Attitudes market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

This report builds on the analysis presented in Snacking Motivations and Attitudes – US, April 2015.

Mintel provides a comprehensive analysis of the following factors that have the greatest potential to impact the snacking category:

  • How snacking is defined, especially as its definition has broadened and new food and beverage categories continue to enter this space.
  • Snacking frequency and the main drivers or motivations for snacking occasions, including functional and emotional reasons.
  • The most important features consumers consider when buying snacks related to health, brand, packaging, and flavor.
  • How consumers’ snacking choices differ by occasion, and how snacks fit into consumers’ lifestyles.
  • The snacking retail landscape including other retail channel entry (eg snacking subscription services, non-food retailers).
  • How health, convenience, and eating habits impact consumer attitudes toward snacking

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Beth Bloom, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

A high percentage of US adults snack daily, making snacking a huge opportunity for engagement. While the incidence of snacking has remained steady in recent years, frequency is on the rise with the growth coming from snackers, who are upping their snack frequency from 1 time per day to 2-3 times. While health is a factor for consideration, the highest percentage of snackers do so for a treat, meaning even health-focused snacks should appeal with enjoyment. Beth Bloom
Associate Director - Food & Drink

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Millennials see less clarity between meals and snacks
            • Figure 1: Snacking attitudes, “It’s hard to distinguish between snack and meal options on a menu,” by generation, March 2017
          • Income can play a role toward healthy snack interest
            • Figure 2: Snack pairings, by household income, March 2017
          • Frozen yogurt loses momentum compared to traditional yogurt
            • Figure 3: Snack pairings, March 2017
          • The opportunities
            • More consumers are snacking throughout the day
              • Figure 4: Snacking frequency, 2015-17, January 2015 and March 2017
            • Women crave a snack break
              • Figure 5: Snack motivators, by gender, March 2017
            • Snack trends emerge in a social media world
              • Figure 6: Snacking attitudes, by generation, March 2017
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Retail builds upon snacking convenience
                • Is that Instagram worthy?
                  • Experience versus convenience
                  • Market Perspective

                    • Retail caters to convenience with a fresh spin
                      • Foodservice snacking is no longer defined by traditional restaurant elements
                      • Market Factors

                        • The Instagram impact can’t be ignored
                          • Figure 7: Instagram usage, at least daily, by generation, March 2017
                        • Social media and snacking behavior
                          • Health claims and the clean label
                            • Figure 8: Health claims, December 2016
                        • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                          • Food waste gets a new life in snacks
                            • Snacks straight to your door
                              • Everything natural
                              • What’s Working?

                                • Seasonal snacks
                                  • Eco-friendly snacks and beverages from the inside and out
                                    • Detailed flavor descriptions + presentation
                                    • What’s Struggling?

                                      • Defining a snack
                                        • Artificial anything
                                        • What’s Next?

                                          • Grab-and-Go restaurants
                                            • Chef inspired prepared snacks
                                              • Snacks on demand
                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                • Millennials are super snackers
                                                  • The sweet and salty flavor combo is not fading
                                                    • Hispanics demonstrate snacking variety
                                                    • Made-to-order Snack Purchase Locations

                                                      • QSRs lead in snack purchases among foodservice snackers
                                                          • Figure 9: Made-to-order snack purchases in foodservice, March 2017
                                                        • Men purchase snacks from a variety of locations
                                                          • Figure 10: Made-to-order snack purchases in foodservice, by gender, March 2017
                                                        • Bakeries and fast casuals drive increased snacking interest from younger consumers
                                                          • Figure 11: Made-to-order snack purchases in foodservice, by age, March 2017
                                                        • Hispanics demonstrate snacking variety
                                                          • Figure 12: Made-to-order snack purchases in foodservice, by race, Hispanic origin and area, March 2017
                                                      • Snacking Frequency

                                                        • Consumers are snacking more throughout the day
                                                          • Figure 13: Snacking frequency, 2015-17, January 2015 and March 2017
                                                          • Figure 14: Snack attributes by occasion, March 2017
                                                          • Figure 15: Snacking frequency, by made-to-order snack consumers, March 2017
                                                      • Super Snacker Profile

                                                        • Younger consumers are a snacking demographic
                                                          • Figure 16: Super snackers (snack four or more times a day), by age, March 2017
                                                        • Urban environments cater to Millennial snacking trends
                                                          • Figure 17: Super snackers (snack four or more times per day), by urban, suburban and rural Millennials, March 2017
                                                        • Parents are snacking to relieve stress and take a break
                                                          • Figure 18: Super snackers, by parents and nonparents, March 2017
                                                      • Motivators for Consuming Snacks

                                                        • The treat mentality remains strong
                                                          • Figure 19: Snack motivators, March 2017
                                                          • Figure 20: Healthy snack attribute by snacking occasion, March 2017
                                                        • Give me a break…
                                                          • Figure 21: Snack motivators, by gender, March 2017
                                                        • Are Millennials oversaturated with a treat yourself mentality?
                                                          • Figure 22: Snack motivators, by generation and Black and non-Black consumers, March 2017
                                                        • Hispanics are social snackers
                                                          • Figure 23: Snack motivators, “to socialize with friends and family,” by Hispanic origin, March 2017
                                                      • Snack Purchase Motivators

                                                        • Healthy snacks lead in purchase motivation
                                                            • Figure 24: Snack purchase motivators, March 2017
                                                          • Targeting women with health trends
                                                            • Figure 25: Snack purchase motivators, by gender, March 2017
                                                          • Millennials lack a clear motivator for purchasing snacks
                                                            • Figure 26: Snack purchase motivators, by generation, March 2017
                                                            • Figure 27: Snack purchase motivators, by parents and nonparents, March 2017
                                                        • Flavor Opportunities

                                                          • Sweet and salty remain leading flavor profiles
                                                            • Figure 28: Snack flavor preferences, March 2017
                                                          • Smoke and spice flavor profiles appeal to men
                                                            • Figure 29: Snack flavor preferences, by gender, March 2017
                                                          • Hispanics enjoy rich and creamy flavor profiles
                                                            • Figure 30: Snack flavor preferences, by Hispanic origin, March 2017
                                                          • Millennials want health…or do they?
                                                            • Figure 31: Snack flavor preferences, by Millennials, March 2017
                                                        • Snack Attitudes

                                                          • Beverages gain snack momentum
                                                              • Figure 32: Snacking attitudes, March 2017
                                                            • The dividing line between a meal and a snack
                                                              • Figure 33: Snacking attitudes, “It’s hard to distinguish between snack and meal options on a menu,” by generation, March 2017
                                                            • The social generation
                                                              • Figure 34: Snacking attitudes, by generation, March 2017
                                                            • iGens have a sweet spot for beverage-based snacks
                                                              • Figure 35: Snacking attitudes, by iGens and Millennials, March 2017
                                                            • Hispanic Millennials are a core snacking demographic
                                                              • Figure 36: Snacking attitudes, by Hispanic and Hispanic non-Millennials, March 2017
                                                            • FSRs can cater to leisurely snacks
                                                              • Figure 37: Snacking attitudes, by gender, March 2017
                                                            • Protein and price point
                                                              • Figure 38: Snacking attitudes,” i enjoy snacks that are protein-rich,” by household income, March 2017
                                                          • Snack Pairings

                                                            • Fruits, nuts and cheese lead in snack interest
                                                                • Figure 39: Snack pairings, March 2017
                                                              • Traditional yogurt wins favor with younger consumers
                                                                • Figure 40: Snack pairings, by age, March 2017
                                                              • Women crave healthy pairings
                                                                • Figure 41: Snack pairings, by gender, March 2017
                                                              • Coffee and pastries cater to socialization
                                                                • Figure 42: Snack pairings, by snack motivator, March 2017
                                                              • An income divide for healthier snack profiles
                                                                • Figure 43: Snack pairings, by household income, March 2017
                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                              • Data sources
                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                      • Terms