Talkin' SnacksConcerns of rising obesity rates and health problems are growing, and public health messages urging better nutrition are everywhere. Many consumers appear to be heeding such messages.

Technomic’s latest “Snacking Consumer Trend Report” revealed the most up-to-date findings on consumer attitudes, behaviors and preferences for snacking occasions. It found that two fifths (40%) of consumers said that they’re snacking more on healthier items today than they did two years ago.

This shift is part of a larger trend around healthy snacking today. Consumers are trying to achieve an overall balance, in terms of indulgence and nutrition, by snacking on small-portioned, healthy foods throughout the day.

The move toward healthier snacks is heavily driven by women (46% of women vs. 33% of men say they’re choosing healthier snacks). In addition, 17% of women vs. just 9% of men report that they “feel more guilty” about their snacking behaviors than they did two years ago—so, they may be open to making healthful changes in the future.

In order to highlight better-for-you menu options for health-conscious consumers, restaurant chains are segmenting healthy offerings on menus in a way that emphasizes small plates and a wider array of appealing snacks. Look for more operators to underscore healthy snacks on the menu, as this preference toward better-for-you snacks increases.

Menu development toward this end is already under way. For example, full-service brand The Cheesecake Factory rolled out its SkinnyLicious Menu, which features a wide range of beverages, appetizers and entrées with a healthful positioning. Appetizers and snacks on the menu include Mushroom Lettuce Wraps and SkinnyLicious Grilled Artichokes. Another example is full-service Copeland of New Orleans’ snack lineup on its 550 Calories and Under menu. Snackable finger foods on this menu include Miso Sugar Snap Peas.

The limited-service segment also illustrates development around healthy snacking by offering downsized portions of low-calorie options. For example, Au Bon Pain’s Portions menu offers customers the choice of a plethora of small-portioned, healthy foods, such as Thai Peanut Chicken; Chickpea Salad; Hummus and Cucumber; Apple, Bleu Cheese and Cranberries; and Brie, Fruit and Crackers.

It’s worth noting, however, that plenty of consumers—both male and female—embrace the flavor thrills of traditional snack foods; 13% report they are eating more salty snacks, and 12% say they have upped their consumption of sweet snacks compared to two years ago.


Darren Tristano is executive vice president of Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based foodservice consultancy and research firm. Since 1993, he has led the development of Technomic’s Information Services division and directed multiple aspects of the firm’s operations. For more information, or to order “The Snacking Consumer Trend Report,” visit


Two fifths (40%) of consumers said they’re snacking more on healthier items today than they did two years ago. The percentage is even greater among women, 46% of whom said they are having more healthy snacks.