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Frito-Lay & Quaker Highlight Summer Snacking Trends

Road trippers under age 40 are twice as likely to prioritize finding the snacks they want over clean bathrooms on their stops.
eating doughnut in car

PLANO, Texas — As temperatures rise, consumers are gearing up for summertime fun. They're also making sure snacks are packed for their road trips, and included in soirees and outdoor escapes.

With experts predicting a surge in summer travel comparable to pre-pandemic levels, Frito-Lay and Quaker's first-ever joint U.S. Summer Snack Index sheds light on consumer preferences and habits to ensure unforgettable memories this season.

"Food is an important centerpiece for the joy that summertime brings," said Denise Lefebvre, senior vice president, PepsiCo Foods R&D. "At Frito-Lay and Quaker, we are deeply invested in understanding what our consumers want so they can have the right flavors, variety, snack styles and even packaging options all season."

Frito-Lay and Quaker's Summer Snack Index marks more than four years since Frito-Lay first issued its inaugural trend report. As snacking continues to play a large role in the lives of Americans — 49 percent of which note enjoying three or more snacks per day — the recurring report is an important yardstick for the evolution of food preferences and purchasing decisions through the lens of evolving consumer behavior, the brands stated.

"Americans snack more in the summer, whether they're inside, outdoors or on the move. From boosting road trip morale to complementing an outdoor potluck, today's data confirms the integral role that snacks will play in many of this season's shared moments and activities," Lefebvre added.

Here's what the annual report revealed:

Ready For Road Trips

  • Planning snacks before hitting the road can "greatly reduce the stress" of a long road trip, according to 85 percent of Americans. That's good news for those looking to embark on new snacking adventures, with nearly three out of four consumers declaring these trips as a chance to enjoy offerings they've never tried before.
  • Snacks are a priority pit stop. Road trippers under 40 years old are twice as likely to prioritize finding the snacks they want over clean bathrooms on their stops.
  • Americans note that snacks provide an important morale boost during road trips (43 percent) and are key to staying sane in traffic (39 percent). While 44 percent of people report hiding snacks to keep them from other passengers, nearly one-quarter say they have used snacks to break an awkward car silence.
  • Approximately 41 percent of respondents say they would rather have control over road trip snacks than the music. Millennials (46 percent) show the greatest preference for snack control, as do parents (49 percent) when compared to non-parents (36 percent).

The Ultimate Summer Soiree

  • Americans note "something for everyone" (74 percent) and "easy to share" (63 percent) are the ideal attributes for food and snacks this summer. When compared to "easy-to-make" dishes, shareability still comes out on top (72 percent vs. 28 percent).
  • Party guests note overcooking the food (70 percent), waiting too long to serve food (62 percent) and not having enough snacks or appetizers (51 percent) are the worst hosting mistakes.
  • Bringing uninvited guests to a party is considered this summer's worst party foul (63 percent), with baby boomers (70 percent) and Gen Zers (55 percent) showing the biggest spread of opinion on the faux pas.

Outdoor Escapes

  • When it comes to outdoor sports, more than half of snackers surveyed (53 percent) say post-game snacks are more important than winning the game. Women (59 percent) are more likely to be excited for the post-game snacks than men (46 percent).
  • Parents note being in charge of their children's after-game snacks is more stressful than getting their kids to the game on time (42 percent). Dads feel the most anxiety over the post-game ritual (46 percent) vs. moms (38 percent).
  • Nearly 60 percent of consumers say that snacks can make or break beach days, citing dropped snacks in the sand (42 percent) and running out of snacks (34 percent) as critical beach bummers.
  • Convenience is key, especially in the great outdoors. The survey found that consumers are more likely to purchase snacks that are conveniently packaged (79 percent), with individually wrapped snacks also preferred (52 percent). When selecting snacks for their children, parents noted variety (70 percent) was their top choice, with flavor and convenience tied for the second-most important attributes (64 percent).

Frito-Lay and Quaker's Summer Snack Index surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older from May 9 to May 15. More information about the survey is available here.

Headquartered in Chicago, the Quaker Oats Co. is a unit of PepsiCo Inc.

Frito-Lay North America is the $23 billion convenient foods division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc. Frito-Lay snacks include Lay's and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos and Tostitos tortilla chips and branded dips, Cheetos snacks, Stacy's pita chips, PopCorners popped-corn snack, SunChips multigrain snacks and Fritos corn chips. The company operates 30-plus manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and Canada, more than 200 distribution centers and services 315,000 retail customers per week through its direct-store-delivery model.

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