In Snacking in America, a new report from NPD Group, fruit holds the top snack position, primarily because it is eaten throughout the day, resulting in its inclusion in more snack occasions.
During the two-year period ending March 2012, fresh fruit was consumed as a snack in 10 more snack occasions a year than chocolate, the next top snack food, and 25 more occasions a year than potato chips, the third most popular snack food.
Fruit appeals to every age group
Another factor contributing to its popularity is that fresh fruit appeals to all age groups, says NPD Group.
“Consumers 65 and older eat the most fruit, followed by children under 12. Teens, ages 13 to 17, eat the least amount of fruit but their consumption increases as they get older.”
Meanwhile, healthier snack consumers snack more often between meals and eat a wider variety of healthy snacks, says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst.
“Among the opportunities this trend presents to producers and produce retailers [is] to market and merchandise fruit around the activities during which it is most likely to be eaten, usage can be expanded with packaging innovation and promotions for on-the-go activities when it’s least likely to be consumed.”
The more snacks, the better?
According to NPD Group, one out of every five eating occasions is a snack. But this is not necessarily bad news from a health perspective, says the report.
“The healthier our eating habits, the more frequently we snack between meals. In fact, those following a “most healthy” diet eat a wider variety of healthy snacks such as fruit, yogurt, and bars."
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