Consumers Pick Snacks Over Meals

The category is being fueled by social media and purchases through nontraditional channels.

January 25, 2022


CHICAGO—Mindfulness and well-being considerations are increasingly important in snacking, according to Mondelēz International’s third annual State of Snacking report.

The report also confirms that consumers prefer snacking as a regular eating behavior over traditional mealtime for the third consecutive year (64% in 2021, up 5% since inaugural findings reported in 2019). This trending preference for snacking spikes among younger generations, with 75% of Gen Z replacing at least one meal each day with a snack.

“Our State of Snacking report found that the definition of snacking is evolving among consumers globally, which is reshaping the meaning of snacking within people’s lives,” said Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Mondelēz International. “Snacking is much more than a source of nutrition and indulgence; it also is a source of social connection and inspiration for broadened experiences. Notably, consumers continue to prefer snacking occasions throughout the day over traditional mealtime—as this growing behavior, accelerated by the ongoing pandemic, increasingly becomes part of daily life. That’s why we are proud to continue offering the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way.”

Mondelēz found that consumers are experimenting with new channels to buy snacks, with more than half reporting shopping for snacks using at least three nontraditional or emerging channels in the past year. These channels include delivery apps, online ordering for curbside or in-store pickup and direct-to-consumer websites.

Eighty percent of global consumers expect to be able to buy the snacks they want whenever they want and using any channel they want. This trend is especially strong in Asia and Latin America.

Social media is a rising source of discovery as consumers increasingly find food trends, inspiration and connection on their feeds. More than half of global consumers say social media has inspired them to try a new snack in the past year, including even greater majorities of Gen Zs (70%) and millennials (71%).

Other key findings include:

  • Nearly 80% of consumers globally say their definition of a snack has evolved during the past three years to include more or different types of foods, occasions for eating or other elements.
  • Eighty-five percent of consumers eat at least one snack per day for indulgence, 88% say a balanced diet can include a little indulgence, and 74% say they can’t imagine a world without chocolate.
  • Eighty-five percent of consumers worldwide want to buy snacks from companies offsetting their environmental footprint.

The report also found that consumers are seeking snacks that deliver a range of benefits beyond physical well-being and nutrition needs. Consumers’ habits indicate both sustenance and indulgence are part of a balanced lifestyle, with 85% of consumers now eating at least one snack for sustenance and one snack for indulgence each day.

Additionally, snacking continues to serve as a vehicle for emotional well-being, with nearly 8 in 10 global consumers agreeing that some snacks should be just for enjoyment or satisfaction, without worrying too much about nutrition (79%). Mindfulness and values-centric consumption also are increasingly top of mind, as 86% of consumers believe in the importance of control over their snacking choices through portion size options and ingredient transparency.