Americans still love their snacks, but tastes are changing

Americans still love their snacks, but tastes are changing

A recent Nielsen poll shows that Americans and the world are still in love with snacks. Snack revenues around the globe have increased by 2 percent in 2013, topping out at $374 billion annually, reports The Huffington Post. The data also shows that snack behaviors in the United States are changing. Spending on groceries has flattened out in favor of greater snacking, signaling a shift away from the traditional three-meal-per-day pattern. Snacking has also been greatly influenced by increased interest in healthy eating. More consumers are treating snack time like a tool for supplementing their diet as opposed to a sign that their diet is getting out of control. Recent trends are particularly of interest to current franchisees and potential entrepreneurs looking to invest in a quickly growing market.

Dinnertime in danger
The NDP Group predicts that the total annual revenues for the emerging American snacks-as-dinner market will reach $86.4 billion annually by 2018, says Forbes. Two major trends have driven this change in behavior. First, the average American lifestyle has become busier and busier. Adults dealing with long commutes and teenagers balancing extracurriculars are more likely to grab snacks on the go than schedule around an evening at the dinner table. Cultural attitudes toward snacking have also undergone a major shift over the past few decades. Analysts from The NDP Group noted that 70 percent of people surveyed in the 1980s noted that they avoided snacking when possible. Today, only 40 percent of Americans hold similar reservations about eating between meals.

Snack growth favors yogurts, nuts and jerky
Americans have adopted new snack addictions as in-between meals have increased. An infographic posted by The Huffington Post shows that the fastest growing snack of choice is Greek yogurt. Annual sales have increased by 16 percent in 2013. Jerky follows Greek yogurt with an 11 percent revenue increase over the year, followed by nutrition bars (7.8 percent) and salty snacks like chips and pretzels (4.7 percent). Bringing up the rear for annual growth are nuts (4.5 percent) and traditional candies (2.9 percent). Grocery sales, by comparison, have only increased by 1.2 percent since last year. Revenue growth for the grocery industry may stagnate over the next few years as snack-for-dinner spending increases, and this development is good news for franchise owners.

Franchises ride snacking trends
Several franchises are in prime position to take advantage of the dawn of the snack age, and these brands are also ideal partners for investors considering their first franchise venture. For example, Fresh Healthy Vending, a leading vending machine franchise, has already stocked its machines with plenty of popular nutrition bars. The company recently announced that it was able to secure 120 locations for new vending machines in September 2014 alone. The simplicity of the Fresh Healthy Vending concept makes it easy for new franchisees to target high-traffic areas with plenty of adults on the lookout for nutritious mid-afternoon snacks.

Beef Jerky Outlet, the nation's leading jerky franchise, has also benefited from recent snacking trends. In a recent interview with Entrepreneur, franchisees Jennifer and William Vancor noted that the couple was drawn to jerky for its timeless appeal. The couple pointed out that jerky is consumed by "astronauts in space" and the "number one snack food for the military," expressing optimism that the appeal of their jerky franchise will outlast the latest snacking trends.

Totally Nutz, a family-owned roasted nut shop in St. George, Utah, is looking to follow the lead of other snack shops and expand through franchising, according to the St. George Daily Spectrum. Owners Matt and Yvette Barker are just as excited about teaching others their precise nut roasting recipes as the potential for new revenues. The Barkers are already in conversations for a multi-unit deal.