Fifty percent of all eating occasions are snacks, with the traditional three squares a day composing the other half of eating occasions, said Laurie Demeritt, CEO of the Hartman Group, at an FMI Connect session on Wednesday.

“Foods that traditionally were thought as snacks are now being eaten as meals; things that were eaten as meals were now being eaten as snacks,” she said.

“We believe when we talk to our clients that you don’t necessarily want to tell a consumer when they should be eating your product.”

The reason that consumers snack has changed beyond just having a sugary craving.


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“So it’s no longer about the physical benefits, that satiety or that enjoyment, not just the emotional benefits — I like it, it tastes good. There’s also social benefits. So snacking together with others, making it an occasion to connect.”

Demeritt pointed out the cultural benefits of snacking, allowing consumers to try new flavor profiles and try more type of foods as snacks.

“And in fact, on 50% of snacking occasions, there are health-related needs going into that occasion, so looking for healthy snacking. And it should be noted in consumers’ minds,  snacking throughout the day in many cases seems like a healthier way to eat.”

The pre-breakfast snack, the dinner snack and the late night snack are snack times Demeritt sees increasing.

The prevalence of the pre-breakfast snack made Unified Grocers CMO Sue Klug question the future of breakfast.

“I think breakfast is going to be a thing of the past. And I think that could be within a couple of decades. Again as you see people having this pre-breakfast snack and sort of having snacks through the morning, I think there could be a point in time where people won’t even remember what it was.”

Although Klug sees continued “massive blurring” of eating meals in the future, she is confident that families will still spend time together for meals.

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