Consumers are snacking significantly more now than they were two years ago. Almost half (48 percent) of consumers polled say they're now snacking at least twice a day, compared to 25 percent in 2010, according to market research firm Technomic.

Restaurants are capitalizing on the growing snacking occasion by offering quick, portable, smaller-portioned, low-priced food and drink. Restaurants now claim 22 percent of consumers' snacking occasions, up from 17 percent in 2010.

"Recent consumer research indicates that snacking is becoming a larger part of consumers' daily lives," said Darren Tristano, Technomic EVP. "Pressure from the nutritional disclosure legislation has prompted the foodservice industry to reduce calorie counts in meals. As a result, Americans are now more inclined to 'graze' throughout the day, seeking snacks that provide fuel between traditional meal parts."

To help operators more effectively identify opportunities for growth, Technomic has developed the Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report.

Some highlights include:

  • Major chains are using late-night hours to promote value-oriented snack items and bar plates to cater to younger customers who visit more often for late-night snacks;
  • More than a third (37 percent) of consumers have broadened their definition of snacks to include more types of foods, beverages and restaurant fare;
  • The mini sandwich, slider or wrap has evolved from a simple snack item to a downsized gourmet version of signature full-sized offerings;
  • Impulse purchases of snacks are up from two years ago. Sixty-two percent reported that most of the snacks they purchased for away-from-home consumption were impulse purchases;
  • More than 33 percent of consumers expect to eat more healthful snacks in the coming year, indicating greater importance for operators to offer and promote better-for-you snacks.

Technomic's Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report examines snack preferences, attitudes and purchasing behavior of more than 1,500 consumers. The Menu Insights section utilizes Technomic's MenuMonitor online database and analyzes recent snacking developments to reveal menu trends for snacks at the Top 500 and emerging limited- and full-service restaurants.

Read more about trends and statistics.

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