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21 Snack Food Industry Statistics and Trends

The snack food industry plays a significant role in the diets of most Americans and those following the standard western diet. These items are integrated into the daily routine for many people, creating a valuable industry for those who manufacture food products.

Salty snack sales in the United States totaled $27 billion in 2017, making at the most popular snack category for Americans. The indulgent snack segment rose by 3.4% during the year as well, making it one of the top gaining areas of the snack food industry today.

Although this industry is highly competitive, PepsiCo dominates thanks to its branding around the world. This company might be known for creating soft drinks, but it also has a sales value in the salty snacks category that is 10 times higher than the next largest brand. Tostitos, Doritos, and Lay’s are all included in the corporate family.

Only 4% of Americans say that they never eat snacks throughout the day.

Important Snack Food Industry Statistics

#1. The most common snacking behavior in the United States involves eating three meals per day with a few snacks between them. 86% of consumers say that they regularly purchase salty snacks to fill this need. (Statista)

#2. 64% of Americans say that they buy items from the snack food industry to use as a dessert. The Hershey Company is the largest provider of snack size chocolate candy in the United States. (Statista)

#3. Over $185 million is spent on Skittles each year, with another $171 million spend on Reese’s snack size candy. (Statista)

#4. Nabisco sold over $674 million in Oreo cookies in 2017. (Statista)

#5. Snack food production in the United States has grown to become a market worth $42 billion. Since 2014, this industry has been growing at an average annual rate of 1.4%. (IBIS World)

#6. There are about 3,700 active businesses in the United States involved in the process of snack food production. These companies provide employment opportunities for roughly 62,000 people. (IBIS World)

#7. While the number of businesses involved in the production of snack foods has risen by 4.6%, the number of employment opportunities in this segment has only grown by 2%. (IBIS World)

#8. The number of people who are eating five or more snacks per day rose from 11.5% in 2016 to 14.2% in 2017. (IRI Snacking Survey)

#9. 23% of consumers say that they are eating snacks in the early morning, which is a rise of three percentage points since 2016. (IRI Snacking Survey)

#10. Snacking in the middle of the day is still the most popular time to try foods from this industry, with 2/3 of people saying that they have at least one item. 58% of consumers say that they have an evening snack, while 45% say that they have a late-night snack. (IRI Snacking Survey)

#11. Chocolate covered pretzels saw the highest unit sales price games in 2017, with a 9% surge due to higher-priced items and an expanded consideration set. Fruit tarts saw a gain of 7%. Snack crackers followed at 4%, with olives at 3%, and then granola bars at 3% as well. (IRI Market Advantage)

#12. Popcorn sales on items that are priced above $9.09 saw a 1,068% increase in interest in 2017. Items in the $6.06-$7.06 range saw a 187% increase, while items priced under $1 surged 63%. Most snack items in this category are between $3 to $4, which saw a 14% gain as well. (IRI Market Advantage)

#13. Healthy snacks in the macrosnack category saw a 2.2% decrease of interest in 2017, while indulgent macrosnacks saw an increase in sales of 2.5%. (IRI Market Advantage)

#14. The global market for healthy snacks was worth $21.1 billion in 2016. Fruit snacks, nuts, and seed’s account for roughly 25% of the market share in this category. (Packaging World)

#15. 24% of snack foods that are eaten each day occurred during a main meal. That is up three percentage points from 2012 when tracking the attitudes and behaviors of Americans consumers. (NPD)

#16. Restaurants and food service outlets respond to 12 billion visits for snacks every year. Snacking can replace a meal when someone is away from home, which is usually lunch. 48% of the food service snack visits that occur each day happen during the lunch hour. (NPD)

#17. 6% of all edible sales can be attributed to chocolate items. 59% of the categories for the overall food and beverage industry contain chocolate as well. (IRI Market Advantage)

#18. 42% of consumers visit a limited service or quick service location as a way to satisfy their snacking needs. 11% say that they visited at least three times per week. Both categories are up a minimum of three percentage points since 2015. (IRI Market Advantage)

#19. The only channels that didn’t see growth in the snack food industry for sales were club stores, which were down 1.1%, and drug stores, which were off 0.4%. Online sales surged 15% for snacks in 2017. Convenience stores saw a strong gain of 3.9% as well. (IRI Market Advantage)

#20. Protein snacks are a significant driver for purchases in the snack food industry today. This category is up 6.6% from the year before, with some products experience 582% revenue growth in 2017. (IRI Market Advantage)

#21. 40% of people say that one of the ways that they tried to take care of their overall health is by paying attention to their snacking habits, along with exercise and dietary changes. (IRI Market Advantage)

Snack Food Industry Trends and Analysis

Although consumers strongly prefer salty snacks when they are trying to satisfy a craving, there are a few changes happening in the snack food industry that are showing people are trying to shift toward healthier eating habits.

The single-serve trend found in this industry will continue to grow, allowing consumers to try different foods while keeping calorie counts down. Having packaging that can reseal makes on-the-go snacking possible without ruining the freshness of the food. This trend will help to grow sales in zippered pouches as well.

The snack food industry will also see a significant increase in the number of SKUs that stores must carry to satisfy the wide range of consumer preferences that are developing right now. When the expanding inventory combines with additional packaging items, including single-serving products, then the vendors who support this industry will be under pressure to deliver results.

The snack food industry is forecast to grow between 3% to 5% over the next 5-year period, with indulgent snacks being a consistent driver for revenues – especially in the premium price category above $9.

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