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Snacking Over Traditional Meals: A Persistent Global Trend

Courtesy iStock
Courtesy iStock

In an era defined by rapid changes in lifestyle and consumer behavior, the act of snacking has evolved from a mere dietary habit to a cultural phenomenon that reflects broader social, economic, and environmental concerns. The latest State of Snacking™ report by Mondelēz International, in partnership with The Harris Poll, offers insightful revelations into the shifting sands of consumer preferences, underscoring a sustained tilt towards snacking over traditional mealtime for the fifth consecutive year. This article delves into the findings of the report, the emerging trends in mindful and sustainable snacking, and the innovative paths snack brands are trekking to cater to the nuanced demands of today’s consumers.

A Persistent Preference for Snacking

Despite the ongoing global economic turbulence, the report illuminates a clear and consistent preference among consumers for snacking. A staggering 88% of respondents indulge in snacks daily, with a significant number expressing a preference for multiple small meals throughout the day over traditional large meals. This trend, robust across 12 countries surveyed, signifies a profound shift in eating patterns, aligning with increasingly fluid lifestyles and the blurring lines between meal times.

The Mindful Snacking Movement

Mondelēz International's report further uncovers a rise in mindful snacking—a conscientious approach that emphasizes the sensory experiences of taste, flavor, and texture. An overwhelming 85% of consumers report savoring their snacks more when consumed mindfully, reflecting a deeper appreciation for the moment and the food. This mindfulness extends to portion control, with 67% of respondents seeking portion-controlled snacks, demonstrating a collective shift towards quality over quantity.

Snacking with Purpose

Today's consumers are not just snacking more; they're snacking with purpose. Over two-thirds of global consumers prefer brands that align with their values, fueling an appetite for snacks that offer sustainability benefits. This preference is evident in the consumer demand for snacks that minimize environmental impact, with 63% of respondents prioritizing sustainability in their snack choices. Such insights point towards a growing consciousness about the environmental footprints of dietary habits and a demand for brands to adapt accordingly.

The Role of Innovation in Healthier Snacking

Innovation lies at the heart of the evolving snacking landscape, particularly in addressing the demand for healthier options. Mondelēz International, a frontrunner in the snacking industry, has been at the forefront of introducing innovative snack options that cater to the health-conscious consumer. Examples abound:

  • Protein-packed Snacks

Protein-rich snacks are increasingly popular, offering a nutritious alternative to traditional snacks. Brands under Mondelēz, such as Clif Bar, have introduced various options that satisfy hunger and align with consumers' fitness goals, embodying the balance between taste and health.

  • Plant-based Varieties

The surge in plant-based diets has spurred the introduction of snacks that cater to this growing segment. Mondelēz and other brands are expanding their offerings to meet the demand for vegan and vegetarian options, reflecting a commitment to diversity and inclusivity in snacking choices from dairy-free chocolates to vegetable-based crackers.

  • Reduced Sugar and Natural Ingredients

In response to the consumer demand for less processed foods, there has been a significant push towards snacks formulated with reduced sugar and natural ingredients. This shift not only caters to the health-conscious consumer but also aligns with the broader trends of mindfulness and sustainability in eating habits.

Snacking as an Experience

The State of Snacking report also sheds light on the resurgence of the experience economy in the context of snacking. Consumers are not just looking for snacks; they're seeking experiences. The rise of "snack adventurers" who leverage social media to discover and try new snacks underscores the role of novelty and innovation in driving consumer interest and satisfaction. Social media platforms have become pivotal in shaping snacking trends, with 56% of consumers discovering new snacks online, particularly among younger generations.

Sustainability at the Forefront

The emphasis on sustainability extends beyond the ingredients and production processes; it also encompasses packaging. A significant 74% of respondents reported recycling their snack packaging, with millennials showing a pronounced preference for snacks with less plastic packaging. This trend highlights a broader shift towards sustainability in consumer preferences, pushing brands to rethink and redesign their packaging strategies to minimize environmental impact.

The Future of Snacking

The additional Future Trends report provides a roadmap for the snacking industry as we gaze into the future. The macro trends paint a picture of a future where snacking is not just about satiating hunger but about fulfilling a broader set of consumer needs and values. Examining these trends can offer a comprehensive outlook on how snacking habits might evolve. Here are key insights integrated with the previously discussed themes:

  • Shifting Demographic Landscape

The demographic shifts across the globe, including aging populations in some regions and younger demographics in others, significantly influence snacking preferences. Brands like Mondelēz International are likely focusing on creating products that appeal across generations, from snacks with nostalgic appeal to innovative flavors that attract younger consumers eager for new experiences.

  • Increasingly Fluid Lifestyles

As lifestyles become more fluid, with the lines between work and home blurring and the rise of digital nomadism, consumers demand snacks that fit these dynamic routines. Portability, convenience, and nutritional value are becoming increasingly important, driving snack innovation towards offerings that can be consumed on-the-go, during virtual meetings, or in shared workspaces.

  • People and Planet Impact Imperative

Sustainability has moved from a niche interest to a mainstream demand among consumers. The Future Trends report likely emphasizes the growing expectation for brands to demonstrate commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. This includes using sustainable ingredients, reducing packaging waste, and ensuring ethical supply chains. Mondelēz International's initiatives in this area, such as optimizing supply chains and focusing on sustainable packaging, are steps towards meeting these consumer expectations.

  • Health and Well-being Ubiquity

With health and well-being becoming ubiquitous concerns, snacks are increasingly expected to deliver not just on taste but also on nutritional benefits. This trend is driving innovation towards snacks that are enriched with proteins, fibers, vitamins, and minerals, catering to the health-conscious consumer without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction.

  • Resurgence of the Experience Economy

The experience economy is influencing snacking in unique ways. Consumers are seeking products that offer more than just nutritional value—they're looking for an experience. This might include limited-edition flavors, interactive packaging, or snacks that evoke a sense of place or memory. It's an area ripe for innovation, allowing brands to create deeper connections with consumers through unique snacking experiences.

Mondelēz is responding to current trends and shaping the industry's future by aligning its portfolio with consumer values and preferences.


The sustained preference for snacking over traditional meals is a clear indicator of the evolving consumer landscape. As this trend continues to grow, so does the importance of mindfulness, sustainability, and innovation in shaping the future of snacking. Brands that recognize and adapt to these shifts will not only thrive but will lead the charge in defining the next era of snacking—an era marked by a harmonious blend of pleasure, purpose, and planet consciousness.


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