Snacks Are Essential as Consumers Prepare to Break Out This Summer

Chips will be a part of nearly all activities, with two out of three consumers saying they prefer classic, traditional flavors.

PLANO, Texas — Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the summer, and however and wherever consumers choose to catch up on activities they missed out on in 2020, snacks will be a part of their plans.

Frito-Lay's latest U.S. Snack Index found that eight in 10 consumers have made plans for Memorial Day, including many activities outdoors like attending a barbecue, spending time at the park, visiting the beach, traveling, or playing sports. These results are a drastic difference to 2020 when 82 percent of consumers noted they planned to stay at home alone for the holiday.

Additionally, 50 percent of vaccinated adults said they plan to spend time with people outside of their household for Memorial Day.

Regardless of consumers' Memorial Day plans, the Snack Index found that snacks remain essential to summer. Eight in 10 of consumers cited summer snacks as a staple of the season (84 percent) or are essential to moments they enjoy (80 percent).

"Overall, the home continues to be central for snacking and gatherings; however, as the world reopens and vaccinations continue, consumers are venturing out again," said Mike Del Pozzo, chief customer officer, Frito-Lay North America. "With salty snacks being the No. 1 food contributor to sales growth at retail, Frito-Lay is ready to meet consumer snacking demand wherever they snack."

More highlights from Frito-Lay's latest U.S. Snack Index include:

Even though in-person leisure and everyday activities this summer are coming back, some pandemic behaviors are here to stay.

  • More people are getting snacks in-person at the grocery store (a 14-point increase from 2020) and one-third (35 percent) are picking up snacks at convenience stores.
  • However, online snack sales are up approximately 73 percent year-over-year and Frito-Lay anticipates e-commerce to double by 2025.

Consumers are trying both new snacks and bold flavors, but the classics remain a steady favorite.

  • The most important thing to consumers is convenience or having tried-and-true favorites (89 percent) when choosing a snack.
  • Chips are the top snack to stock up on for nearly all summer activities and two-in-three consumers say they prefer to stick with the classic, traditional flavors this summer.
  • However, Americans are getting more adventurous compared to 2020, with consumers preferring new, spicy and bold flavors (25 percent in 2020 vs. 32 percent in 2021). This is exponentially higher among millennials and Gen Zers (45 percent).

Snacking habits and summer plans vary across the United States.

  • More than a quarter of consumers in Los Angeles (29 percent), Baltimore and Washington, D.C. (27 percent), and Houston (26 percent) say they expect to snack more this summer compared to a typical, pre-pandemic summer.
  • Summer activities differ across markets as the world begins to open up. Los Angeles shows strong interest in spending more time among other people at restaurants, sporting events and concerts, while Dallas shows interest in spending more time outdoors this summer (63 percent).

Polling for Frito-Lay's latest Snack Index was conducted online from April 28-30, sampling 2,199 adults nationwide.

Plano-based Frito-Lay North America is the $18 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo Inc., which is headquartered in Purchase, N.Y.