Chicago, IL — With many people spending more time at home during the pandemic, snack foods and treats, both better-for-you and indulgent, help to fill voids created by sadness, boredom, stress, and other moods, reports The NPD Group. The average U.S. consumer ate 37 percent more snack foods and treats than they did in 2019 while feeling sad or depressed during the pandemic, NPD’s recently released Future of Snacking report reveals. The report, NPD says, shows what snack food consumption in America looks like now and over the next two years.
Of all moods, being sad or depressed had the most impact on snack food and treat consumption, but boredom followed closely increasing snacking by 33 percent, notes NPD. Consumers also tended to eat more snack foods and treats when they were cranky, stressed, anxious, calm and relaxed. Snack food consumption declined when consumers were feeling rushed, happy, good, tired and just normal or neutral, finds NPD.
“Looking forward, the snack food and sweets industries need to keep a keen eye on the mental state of consumers, as changing times impact emotional needs for snack foods and treats,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst, a contributor to the Future of Snacking study. “Today it’s about fighting boredom and boosting mental well-being. Tomorrow, look for more sharing of snack foods and treats in social environments as shared experiences come back into focus and pent-up demand for these types of occasions is released.”
The report found that a combination of savory snack foods and treats helps comfort consumers. The report also found that sad or depressed consumers lean toward sweeter treats, while bored consumers tend to reach for more savory snack foods. There is also a balance of better-for-you and indulgent snacking in most cases. At the beginning of the pandemic consumers did reach for more treats and indulgent snack foods but as the pandemic continued, they realized long-term indulgent behaviors needed to be balanced, NPD reports.