Who doesn’t love a tasty snack now and then? There are many reasons why people reach for a snack, ranging from physical to emotional. While snacking is nothing new, the foods that people choose and the motivations behind those choices are changing. When we look at the evening snack and flavor trends of 2023, we notice a lot of interesting patterns. Let’s take a look.


2023 Snack Trends

Many consumers turn to snacks at home when they’re engaging in activities involving multimedia and electronics. In fact, two-thirds of snackers say they reach for something to eat while they’re watching TV or a movie. Other popular activities that consumers pair with snacking include using the computer, playing video games, and reading.

We also see emotions play a significant role in when and why people snack. Wanting to reward oneself is the most popular reason to munch outside of hunger, but other top reasons for snacking include boredom, happiness, and stress. Snacking has long induced feelings of guilt among people, but with the increased availability of healthier snack options, snacking despite not feeling hungry does not trigger as much guilt in consumers as it did in the past.


Healthy Snacking Is on the Rise

Chips and salsa, cookies, and ice cream are some of the most popular snacks found in pantries, but their dominance might soon be challenged. One of the most notable trends in 2023 is that people are looking for healthier options for snacking. Almost half of consumers — 46% — report that they do not feel guilty about snacking if the food is considered healthy, indicating that snacks promoting health benefits or clean ingredients are becoming increasingly popular.

One of the most prominent food trends this year is a rise in the popularity of plant-based foods. Once marketed only to vegans and vegetarians, plant-based alternatives to milk and yogurt and other snacks derived from plants are gaining traction with the general public. New options on the market include vegan cheese snacks, plant-based desserts that boast less sugar and calories than their animal product counterparts, and snacks that feature cactus as the main ingredient. Besides possible health benefits, plant-based snacks are attractive to consumers because they tend to be better for the environment and animal welfare.


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Evening Snacking Trends 2023

When we look at evening snacking trends, we notice many new products that aim to please those wanting tasty foods without inducing guilt around eating outside of regular mealtimes. When the midnight munchies strike, consumers are looking for healthier options that will satisfy cravings without throwing a day of healthy eating out the window. 

Beyond containing healthy ingredients, many of these new snacks aim to aid relaxation and sleep, which can be even more enticing for consumers. For example, Sweet Dreams is a new cereal that comes in two varieties, both featuring lavender, chamomile, and other vitamins and minerals that claim to boost melatonin production for sleep support. Horlicks Healthy, a popular British brand, is currently marketing wellness shakes that offer a mix of protein, vitamins, and minerals to promote health goals such as hunger satisfaction as well as getting a better night’s rest. 

While more consumers want healthy options when it comes to a late-night bite, they’re also looking for things that still taste good — that meet the emotional and mental reward of giving oneself a treat. Sweet flavor trends are popular between dinner and bedtime, especially familiar treats like cookies, doughnuts, and ice cream. New products are emerging in this arena as well, such as a truffle cup that is supposed to help with sleep and is made from sustainably-sourced cacao from Ecuador. Because it is vegan and does not contain added sugars, these treats are a healthier alternative to typical chocolates while still offering snackers the sweet tastes they’re craving for dessert.


Health Food Trends

As mentioned, one of the biggest 2023 snack trends is a push toward healthier options. Research shows that consumers are looking for products that not only contain clean ingredients but that also meet specific health goals or prevent certain health problems. When it comes to evening snack flavors, plants like cauliflower, chickpeas, and avocados are leading the way as base ingredients for many snacks since consumers are looking for diet-specific foods, including those marketed as keto-friendly, high-protein, anti-inflammatory, or grain-free.

Gut health is also shown to be an important concern among snackers. Many new snacks contain clean ingredients that are gut-friendly and enriched with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to aid digestion, reduce uncomfortable bloating, and support regular bathroom habits. Fermented snacks like cabbage chips, yogurts, or sauerkraut appeal to consumers who are looking for foods that can positively affect their gut microbiomes. Fiber-rich snacks made from a variety of grains also help to achieve this purpose.

The method of snack preparation is also important. Consumers want less fried food, so they are instead turning toward items that are baked or air-popped to avoid eating heavy snacks too close to bedtime. 


Related: Innovative Savory Plant-Based Snacks


Healthier Options Before Bed Are in Demand

Evening snacking can be comforting, part of a ritual, or simply a tasty way to end the day. Whether consumers prefer sweet snacks or savory, they are looking for options that they can feel good about consuming. While health benefits are important, snackers still want something that tastes good and satisfies their cravings. Looking to the future, we can expect that these healthy trends will continue, especially when it comes to diet-specific evening snacks.

People are more conscious about eating nutrient-dense food that both nourishes and satisfies, especially when compared to past generations of snackers who ate treats that were lower in calories and fat but laden with artificial ingredients and sweeteners. When it comes to evening snacks, manufacturers need to find the perfect balance between tasty and indulgent, seeking new and creative ways to incorporate simple, whole ingredients.


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