Consumer Trends

A nation of nibblers: Snacks

Snacks have become a customer-driven demand in foodservice. New data from Mintel show that while consumers snack at almost every time of the day and night, snacking patterns do vary by gender and age. Convenience, pricing, portion size and portability drive snacking decisions.

  • Within one month this past Spring, 68% of people had a snack from a fast food restaurant, while 45% purchased a snack from a casual restaurant
  • 18 to 34 year-olds are generally more cash-strapped, making them more inclined to patronize quickservice restaurants for a snack. However, this group is also snacking at fast-casual concepts and coffeehouses, indicating that there’s room to grow more snack options in these segments
  • Males and females show similar snacking patterns. Yet, men are more likely to get a portable item and women prefer sweet snacks such as bakery items
  • Sides are the main source of snacks in restaurants, with 37% of respondents ordering from that part of the menu. Appetizers come in second at 28%
  • Casual restaurants and coffeehouses are offering appetizers and happy hours to help meet demands for social snacking
  • While the word ‘snack’ conjures up a treat, many diners seek satiety and wholesome ingredients that will keep them full until the next eating occasion


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