Solo diners and single-person households are driving up mealtime snacking, according to market-research company The NPD Group, leading a number of concepts to beef up their snack offerings in response.
In 2014, Americans ate snack foods during traditional mealtimes at billions more occasions than in 2011, NPD data shows. And that trend shows little sign of slowing, according to the market researcher, as snack food consumption at main meals will grow about 5 percent over the next five years.
“Consumers clearly associate certain times of day with main meals and between meal occasions, but what they are eating at those occasions is changing,” says Darren Seifer, NPD Group food and beverage industry analyst, noting that the traditional lines between snack foods and main meal foods “are blurring.”
Arby’s is one chain playing into the traction-gaining snack-as-meal trend. The QSR Thursday introduced its Mini Meat Marvels, a lineup of sliders that customers can order a la carte or as part of a meal. The sliders are available in five varieties: roast beef ‘n’ cheese, crispy chicken ‘n’ cheese, corned beef ‘n’ cheese, ham ‘n’ cheese and jalapeno roast beef ‘n’ cheese.
“Big, delicious, meaty sandwiches are what Arby’s is known for, but we needed an offering for guests looking to grab a high-quality, quick snack,” said Rob Lynch, chief marketing officer of Arby’s Restaurant Group.
Other concepts are also capitalizing on the growing popularity of snack items. Starbucks recently amplified its selection of snack items, featuring a line of “curated” options, while Church’s Chicken Thursday debuted its Chicken & Biscuit Bites, bite-size versions of its fried chicken and honey-butter biscuit offerings.