New Stats Show Snacking Intensifying During Pandemic

white rice on stainless steel bowl

New stats suggest consumer eating habits are shifting away from the traditional three meals per day toward more frequent snacking.

Over the past five years, Americans added 25 between-meal snacking occasions per capita, from 505 in 2015 to 530 in 2020, according to NPD Group’s Eating Patterns in America.


Snacking was on the rise even before so many Americans were stuck at home, at length, during the COVID-19 pandemic. A poll conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Moonstruck Chocolate Co. at the end of 2019 found 18% of consumers would forgo all of their electronic devices for one month to snag a lifetime supply of snacks, reported New York Post (Dec. 3).

And the pandemic only intensified this trend. NPD found that having sufficient snack foods on hand during the pandemic is important to 37% of consumers.

“America is a nation of snackers and we’re no longer as averse to snacking as we once were. Instead, snacking is viewed as a way to have a quick bite in between meals or as a convenient meal side,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst, in a company press release. “Snacking is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, and this way of thinking provides endless opportunities for food and snack marketers.”

Consumers have enjoyed snacking so much that they are even replacing meals with snacking. It was found that consumption of snack foods at meals increased from 21% of eatings in 2010 to 26% in 2020. This is in line with another statistic from the 2021 Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian What’s Trending in Nutrition survey—78% of registered dietitian nutritionists believe that consumer eating habits are shifting away from the traditional three meals a day to more frequent snacking.

Because consumers are also showing more interest in health, types of snacks that the surveyed dietitians believe will be popular include fermented foods (such as yogurt and kefir), blueberries, exotic fruit (acai, golden berries, etc.), seeds, and nuts.


The OnePoll survey found that Spending an average of $9.22 a week, Americans’ snack purchases total $479.44 a year, meaning the average respondent will spend $28,766.40 on snacks alone during their lifetime.

In October 2020, several CPG brands released quarterly results that displayed this particularly high demand for snacks.

Quarterly sales for PepsiCo grew by more than 5%, fueled by higher sales of its snacks such as Tostitos, Cheetos, and Doritos, while Conagra saw higher demand for its snacks, including Slim Jim Beef Jerky and Snack Packs—which experienced double-digit organic growth in the three months to Aug. 30.