Snackification: Snacks, Meals and the Future of Blurred Eating Occasions

January 2020

Snackification – a trend in which consumers snack in place of meals – has reshaped both the nutritional and competitive landscape in snacks. This report unpacks the underlying drivers and occasions that have been the primary battleground for this trend. The future of snackification remains uncertain. Innovation in food delivery stands to threaten occasions traditionally dominated by packaged snacks. Brands can use four strategies to sustain the momentum of snackification in an uncertain future.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Time is becoming an increasingly scarce resource

Consumer lifestyles are evolving in ways that make time increasingly scarce. Urbanisation and demographic shifts are creating smaller households, while the digital age is reshaping the paradigms and expectations around time use.

Consumers spend less time on food preparation, with more fluid eating habits

These new time pressures are driving consumers to seek more pre-prepared food solutions. Eating habits are also becoming more fluid as consumers seek convenience. The concept of “three square meals” at fixed times is fading.__

“Snackfication” emerges to shape the morning occasion

Snacks are a primary beneficiary of these new eating habits. A trend known as “snackification” – in which snacks capture share from traditional meals – has reshaped eating occasions. Breakfast has been the primary battleground.

Snackification disrupts the nutritional and competitive landscape in snacks

Meal replacement snacking has generated strong demand for protein, satiety and healthier snack categories. Manufacturers with more indulgent-focused “treating” portfolios have pivoted via acquisition in order to adapt to this shift.

Snacks have struggled in evening occasions as other convenient models thrive

Snackification has not been able to make inroads during evening occasions. Consumers have instead turned to meal kits, prepared food in retail outlets and foodservice delivery in order to save time on food preparation.

Ghost kitchens and delivery innovations threaten to capture future occasions

Investment and innovation will make on-demand delivery of freshly-made food more affordable than ever before. As such, occasions that have traditionally been dominated by packaged snacks may come under siege.

Packaged snacks need to leverage four core strengths to compete in a new era of fresh food on-demand

Packaged snacks need to innovate in their key advantages to best compete with freshly prepared food. These include a ubiquitous retail presence, solutions for tailored nutrition, a focus on portability and smaller pack sizes, and cross-merchandising opportunities with new business models in delivery.


Key findings
Trends create demand for convenience
Urbanisation changes household structures
Longer working hours and “empty nesters”
The on-demand economy changes expectations
New business models innovate for convenience
Time as currency
Implications for food: less preparation
Implications for food: Less time in the kitchen
Convenience as the primary goal
Cooking less is a trend that compounds with each new generation
Eating habits become more fluid
A generational shift toward flexible eating occasions
Snacks have been a major beneficiary
The “snackification” of food
Snacks win at breakfast (and lunch)…
…led once again by the next generation
The battle for breakfast
Satiety is essential for meal replacement snacking
“Snacking” versus “treating”
Snackification changes the competitive landscape in snacks
Dinner holds out against snackification
Convenience comes in other forms at dinner
Meal kits promise gourmet results with less preparation
Retailers pivot from packaged to prepared food
Food delivery gains steam as the next great frontier
Prepared food as a threat to packaged snacks
Technology and low prices will help foodservice capture more occasions
A future of blurring lines for convenient food solutions
Strategies: leveraging the competitive advantages of packaged snacks
Become ubiquitous: anytime and anywhere
Impulse snacking is profitable and insulated from competition
Tailored nutrition: snacks can better meet specific dietary needs
Tailored snacks can thrive in an era of personalised nutrition
Portability and pack size: making consumption more efficient
Portability and small packages: a key strategy for snack brands
Cross merchandising: capturing the growth in new food delivery models
Companies adapt packaged snacks to the world of on-demand delivery
Case Study: Rite Bite carts and packaged snacks in Dubai

Packaged Food

In packaged food we consider two aspects of food sales: 1) Retail sales. 2) Foodservice. Retail sales is defined as sales through establishments primarily engaged in the sale of fresh, packaged and prepared foods for home preparation and consumption. This excludes hotels, restaurant, cafés, duty free sales and institutional sales (canteens, prisons/jails, hospitals, army, etc). Our retail definition EXCLUDES the purchase of food products from foodservice outlets for consumption off-premises, eg impulse confectionery bought from counters of cafés/bars. This falls under foodservice sales. For foodservice, we capture all sales to foodservice outlets, regardless of whether the products are eventually consumed on-premise or off-premise. Foodservice sales is defined as sales to consumer foodservice outlets that serve the general public in a non-captive environment. Outlets include cafés/bars, FSR (full-service restaurants), fast food, 100% home delivery/takeaway, self-service cafeterias and street stalls/kiosks. Sales to semicaptive foodservice outlets are also included. This describes outlets located in leisure, travel and retail environments. 1) Retail refers to units located in retail outlets such as department stores, shopping malls, shopping centres, super/hypermarkets etc. 2) Leisure refers to units located in leisure establishments such as museums, health clubs, cinemas, theatres, theme parks and sports stadiums. 3) Travel refers to units located in based in airports, rail stations, coach stations, motorway service stations offering gas facilities etc. Beyond the scope of the foodservice research are captive foodservice units that serve captive populations around institutions such as hospitals, schools, and prisons. This is also known as institutional sales.

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