The idea of “three meals a day” is almost a thing of the past. Having a mid-morning snack is exceedingly common, especially for the younger generations. It’s such a modern phenomenon that forward-thinking brands and food and beverage establishments will be looking at the top morning snacking trends for 2022.
One of the most interesting post-pandemic snack trends is the time shift in eating. Both adults and kids are snacking in between meals and sometimes as a replacement for a meal altogether. This change in Americans' eating behavior presents an opportunity to meet the new and growing need for morning snacking.
To learn more about the top morning snacks and popular morning snack flavors — for both restaurants and retail brands — Symrise analyzed data from surveys and research to share the top morning snacking trends for 2022. Here’s what we learned:
Morning Snacks Are Becoming the Norm
Hangar (hunger + anger) is real! Most people snack throughout the day, starting in the morning hours. Especially for younger adults aged 18 to 34, the line between snacks and meals is sometimes unclear, as snacks are a frequent source of nutrition.
One study reported that consumers often have up to 12 snacks a day. Only 11% of consumers say they only eat full meals with no snacks. The rest admit to snacking, with 9% saying they mostly eat snacks and only some full meals.
During the pandemic, 29% of Americans over 18 said they increased their snacking behaviors, and 46% also believe that they’ll likely continue to do so in the future.
It’s the same for younger consumers: 51% of Gen Z teens report eating a morning snack — even more than the 30% who eat breakfast (and some may eat both).
Some Foods Can Be Marketed Creatively
Traditional foods people eat at breakfast or lunch can also easily work as a mid-morning snack, something remote workers — whether they're at home or in a “third space” of a café or restaurant — appreciate as a natural break in their workflow.
Cereal is a good example: While usually a popular breakfast item, 35% of households report eating it as a morning snack, and 32% have it as a snack in the evening. Anything that is easy and energizing can be marketed as perfect for morning snacking.
Snacks Are a Source of Nutrition
Older consumers tend to stick to three traditional meals, but younger consumers don’t have a negative attitude about snacks. Young adults and children use snacking as an opportunity to get nutrition, so they don’t necessarily cook or order full meals.
For parents, hybrid schooling has disrupted the routine of previous years, making nutritious food even more important. However, there are other factors that parents consider when offering food to their children, including:
Food the parent knows the child will eat
How quick it is to prepare
If it will fill the child up
Food the child can eat quickly
Whether it’s the same thing the parent is eating
How quick clean-up will be
If the food is portable
Cultural Snacks Speak to Emotions
Nearly half of consumers connect food and cooking with their cultural identity. Emotions play an exciting role when individuals decide what types of snacks to eat in the morning. Some ethnicities have deeper connections between foods and culture.
Sixty-seven percent of consumers of Hispanic origin agree with the connection, and 63% of Black or African American consumers connect cooking with their cultural identity.
Asians and Pacific Islanders also consider the connection strong, with 62% agreeing. Morning snacks that connect to nostalgia and cultural holidays will likely increase in popularity.
Morning Snack Ingredients Can Be Innovative
To meet demand between breakfast and lunch, some restaurants are offering creative and innovative morning snack ingredients and combinations to stay trendy.
Tom’s Watch Bar serves Injectable Donut Holes, with cinnamon-sugar dusting and fudge, raspberry, and dulce de leche inside. Tous les Jours offers a Kimchi Croquette, a crispy croquette donut filled with spicy kimchi and clear noodles.
The Jack in the Box chain has hot chocolate croissant bites on the menu, a snack that is cravable both after breakfast and lunch.
Top Breakfast Snacks Are Both Healthy and Sweet
For both male and female consumers, fruit is one of the top breakfast snacks, followed by salty snacks and bars or bites. From there, men lean toward the indulgent sweets, with cookies and crackers before yogurt. Women are less likely to snack on cookies but slightly more likely to enjoy a candy snack in the morning.
The preference for fruit and salty snacks transcends the generations — from Gen Z to boomers — and different regions of the country. Millennials will snack on frozen meals more than members of other generations, while the youngest post-Gen Z consumers may still be snacking on baby food.
Bars and bites also rank highly across the nation.
Retail brands and restaurants can expand their reach by including plant-based protein items offered as a morning snack. Consumers report that they eat plant-based proteins more often because it’s healthier than eating meat and provides variety. Forty-five percent said they were trying to eat less meat, and 20% said someone in their household eats a plant-based diet.
To appeal to consumers who are starting to eat out more frequently post-pandemic or are busy parents, these snacks can be frozen, refrigerated, or shelf-stable. The convenience helps to secure loyalty in your retail products or restaurants, whatever time of day someone wants to grab something to hold them off until lunch.
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Food and Beverage Morning Snacking Trends
Some foods are growing in popularity as morning snack options, including:
Fruit, especially grapes
Bars, including nutrition, diet, energy, fiber, protein, and trail mix options
Frozen sandwiches and handheld snacks
Medium and hard cheeses
Beverages can also qualify as a morning snack, with water remaining the top growing beverage for morning snacks. Others include:
Shakes, including nutrition, protein, and diet drinks
Coffee and specialty coffee
Being creative and meeting an already growing interest in morning snack options will help build brands and consumers' attention.
To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here!