Snack food consumption has increased by +8% during the pandemic as consumers seek comfort through savory and sweet snacks
US consumers have historically turned to snack foods for comfort and enjoyment during challenging times, like the Great Recession, but this behavior has been heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports The NPD Group. Given both the economic and well-being stressors related to COVID-19, indulgent snacking is playing an even more important role during these current challenging times. Snack food consumption has increased by +8% during the pandemic as consumers seek comfort through savory and sweet snacks, according to NPD’s Snack Food Behaviors in Challenging Times study. During the Great Recession, between 2008 and 2010, snack foods increased by 4.8 billion eatings, a +1% increase.
In April, during the height of the shelter-at-home orders, 37% of consumers told NPD they wanted to make sure they had sufficient snack foods on hand. They were well-stocked on salty snacks and frozen sweets more than other items. Also, in many cases, the more snack food packages in the home, the more frequently the item is consumed, which tends to be especially true of certain types of snack foods. For example, consumers who have five or more packages of crackers or salty snacks consume those foods at higher rates than consumers with fewer packages in their home.
“We’ve seen consumers turn to indulgent snack foods in other challenging times, and although history isn’t repeating itself during COVID, it is rhyming,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Although we can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, I think it’s safe to say snack food manufacturers and retailers can expect elevated snack food usage while COVID-19 restricts our restaurant usage and overall movement, in particular school closings and work from home orders.”