Americans are snacking more than ever and there are two reasons behind it, according to new research from Mintel: stress and attitude. Self-care is having a moment in American culture and part of that mindset means allowing yourself to indulge when you need a break or simply feel stressed out.
Snacking frequency has seen a spike, and the proof is in the numbers: Fifty percent of Americans snacked two to three times a day in 2015, but 55 percent admit to the same habit in 2017.
Half of Americans surveyed admit they snack to treat themselves. The mindset is especially prevalent amongst millennials; one in four are most likely to snack four or more times a day. In comparison, one in 10 of Gen X Americans snack four or more times a day.
Meanwhile, 24 percent of Americans say they consume snacks as a way to relieve stress. According to Mintel, 16 percent of Americans indulged in snacks in 2015 for stress relief, while three in five (that's 62 percent) did the same last year. Another factor is a hectic schedule: One-fourth of people who snack three to four or more times a day say they're too busy to eat a proper, full meal.
At the start of the day, snackers aim for healthy (29 percent), light (23 percent), and energizing (23 percent) foods. But once midday hits, priorities shift to healthy (26 percent), sweet (23 percent), and energizing (23 percent).
"A high percentage of U.S. adults snack daily, making snacking a huge opportunity for engagement. While the incidence of snacking has remained steady in recent years, frequency is on the rise with the growth coming from snackers, who are upping their snack frequency from one time per day to two to three times," Beth Bloom, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, says in a statement. "While health is a factor for consideration, the highest percentage of snackers do so for a treat, meaning even health-focused snacks should appeal with enjoyment."