CHICAGO – One is the loneliest number … unless you’re in the business of selling snacks.
Snack foods eaten at meals is on the rise, largely because of people who are eating by themselves, according to Snacking in America, a recent report by The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. With single-person households in the United States at 38 million, this could mean big business for convenience stores.
In 2014, solo diners ate snacks at mealtimes an average of 191 times, compared to 167 in 2011. Across the entire U.S. population, that represents a difference in billions of eating occasions—and potentially billions of dollars.
Health and weight management are among the main reasons solo diners eat snack foods at mealtimes, especially better-for-you snack foods, NPD’s report found. And here’s a big c-store product opportunity: The most common over-indexing motivator cited in the better-for-you category is if the snack product was available in a single-serving package. For now, respondents said they use supermarkets most often for their mealtime snack foods, but with proper merchandising and product assortment, the occasion could be there for the taking.
“Smaller household sizes and eating alone are among the growing factors with snacking,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Food manufacturers and retailers should think about the unique needs of the solo consumer when developing products and packaging, and marketing messages should be crafted to be relevant to them and their snacking behaviors.”