Millennials Are Behind the Popular 'Fourth Meal'

Researchers see more opportunities to sell healthy snacks.

July 03, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The idea behind snacking is evolving—especially among millennials, according to Innova Market Insights. Increasingly busy lifestyles are causing consumers to adopt less formal eating patterns and upping the demand for healthy snacks.

“Fundamental changes in eating patterns are giving way to less traditional meal patterns,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of Innovation, Innova Market Insights. “This is shifting to a more fragmented and flexible eating style, encompassing multiple small meals or snacks, often eaten alone or on-the-go.”

This trend, often referred to as the “fourth meal,” has boosted demand for quick and convenient, yet healthy, solutions and created opportunities for wholesome, satisfying and sustaining snacks to serve as mini meals. According to data from the market researcher, there has been a 14% average annual growth in food and beverage launches with a snacking claim.

Among those healthy choices, vegetable-based snacks are leading the way, with an increasingly high profile for on-trend ingredients, such as ancient grains, hummus, avocado, seaweed and hemp. Nuts are also a popular ingredient, with almonds as the leading nut used in global snack product introductions in 2017, the researchers reported.