Boomers, Not Millennials, Indulge Most Between Meals

CHICAGO — Millennials have long been identified as the key target of the snack occasion, but new research from The NPD Group shows it's actually baby boomers who most often indulge between meals.

Boomers consume ready-to-eat snack food 20 percent more often than millennials do, according to NPD, despite millennials having overtaken their older counterparts in population size in 2015. Annual eatings of ready-to-eat snacks per boomer are about 1,200 — or a total of 90.4 billion snack eatings — compared to about 1,000 snack eatings for each millennial, or a total of 83.1 billion snack eatings.

Based on NPD’s snacking research, there are some key differences in terms of the factors that influence these groups' snacking decisions. Millennials reach for what is often a grab-and-go snack because they’re hungry. Boomers snack because they don’t want to prepare a big meal and they eat alone more often than other age groups.

Both groups choose snacks based on taste and craving. When it comes to their snacks of choice, fruit, chocolate candy/candy bars and potato chips rank as the top three for both age groups. However, boomers and millennials take different paths after the top three, with boomers reaching for nuts and yogurt, while millennials favor tortilla chips and cookies.

“Our snacking research shows us that all snackers are not alike. Motivations, snack food choice, and when and where to snack differs among age groups,” stated NPD's food and beverage industry analyst Darren Seifer. “Everyone gets it that as a nation we like snack foods, but the key for food manufacturers is to find the nuances in snacking behaviors in order to differentiate a brand or find a white space opportunity.”

Although boomers hold the top score over millennials in ready-to-eat snack food eatings, they still don’t come close to kids when it comes to the amount of snack foods consumed. Children aged 2-17 consume an average of 1,500 snack foods per year, according to NPD’s findings. 

Healthier snack foods rank highest with kids — particularly those aged 2-5, where parents primarily control what they are eating. Sweet and savory snacks start to creep up in rank with older kids.

Based in Chicago, The NPD Group is a global information company. 

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