Trendwatch: Snack foods as meals

  • News
  • October 28, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Trendwatch: Snack foods as meals

In the Asia-Pacific region, which includes New Zealand, annual snack sales rose 4 percent and totalled $46 billion.

Refrigerated snacks were the most popular, making up almost one third of sales ($13.7 billion).

It seems as though brands are picking up on this trend, and there’s been an increase in products that are snacks rather than meals.

Case in point: Sanitarium’s Up & Go products are said to have pioneered a new product category late 90s.

Now, it’s diversified its age-old breakfast product Weet-Bix, into a new breakfast biscuit product, Weet-Bix Go.

According to its label, it has the “energy and fibre of two Weet-Bix and 125ml milk” and is intended to be eaten while, as the name implies, on the go.

Though some have criticised breakfast biscuits for their lack of nutritional value, Sanitarium says this product has received a health star rating between 3-3.5 stars across the range. 

We wonder what’s next for busy people on the go - eggs benedict-flavoured breakfast biscuits? Eye fillet steak dinner biscuits? Or with the holiday season approaching, Christmas ham and trifle-flavoured breakfast biscuits?

It may seems ridiculous, but this target market for busy people with no time to eat meals – in particular, breakfast – is vast.

According to, "the proportion of Australians aged over 14 years who consume breakfast drinks in an average week has more than doubled over the past decade".

Belvita, the breakfast biscuit company, has reported that 46 percent of Kiwis miss out on their morning meals at least once a week.

Food Navigator also reports cereal sales in the U.S. have been declining over the past decade and have dropped from $13.9 billion in 2000 to $10 billion in 2013, with products like Belvita playing a part in cereal’s demise by offering on-the-go foods.

So why are people turning to snack foods, anyway?

The aforementioned Nielsen Report carried out a global study on snacking, polling 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries to find more on snacking behaviour.

The study showed more than three-quarters of global respondents (76 percent) eat snacks often or sometimes to satisfy their hunger between meals or to satisfy a craving, while 45 percent global respondents consume snacks as a meal alternative – 52 percent for breakfast, 43 percent for lunch and 40 percent for dinner.

Nutrition also played a part, with 63 percent saying it’s the reason why they snack, while 61 percent of global respondents said they snack to get an energy boost.

Many also choose to snack when taking a break (60 percent) and when passing the time (53 percent).

Nielsen says this means it’s reasonable to think that consumers look for snacks that are both convenient and nutritious.

Nielsen Global Professional Services executive vice president Susan Dunn says there’s a perception that snacks are eaten between meals rather than as actual meal replacements.

“But busy, on-the-go lifestyles often dictate a need for quick meals, and many opt for fast food options that can be high in calories and low in health benefits. There is a massive untapped opportunity to gain market share in the nutritious, portable and easy-to-eat meal alternative market that snack manufacturers could fill,” Dunn says.

In Asia-Pacific, snacks are most often purchased at supermarkets (44 percent) and mass merchandisers and hypermarkets (47 percent).

Retailers, take note: the biggest future growth in snacks is predicted to come from the Asia-Pacific region, which includes New Zealand.

This is due to increased consumption per capita and an increasing population, meaning more money to spend and more mouths to feed.  

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