Snack attack: Bakers go small as meal replacements gain ground

Remember the days of eating three meals a day? You do if you’re a silent, a boomer or a Gen X-er. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance you still stick to that “old” schedule.

For millennials and Gen Z-ers, however, it’s a different story. Good luck getting them to eat two square meals a day. To those groups, the three meals of yesteryear are the six or seven snacks of today.

Today’s on-the-go consumers aren’t any less hungry than they used to be — they’re just replacing meals with snacks. And baked goods companies would be wise to jump on the $33 billion snack bandwagon with single-serve grab ‘n go products that fit key trends and consumer demands.

Mini, bite-sized, and smaller-portioned bakery products continue to find new ways into consumer’s baskets – especially those that deliver a premium, fresh-quality experience. With shoppers always on the lookout for tasty, convenient ways to satisfy their hunger cravings, Lenexa, Kansas-based Corbion can help create distinctively mouth-watering snacks consumers will ask for again and again.

When it comes to snacking, there are three rules bakers would be wise to follow, according to Corbion:

  • Keep it simple
  • Make it mini!
  • Deliver indulgence

The average American now spends less than 30 minutes a day eating, according to Innova Market Insights. 58% of consumers spend less than 15 minutes eating breakfast. 22% eat lunch in under 15 minutes, 20% eat dinner in less than 15 minutes.

“Time scarcity and busy lifestyles are the primary forces behind the growing snacking trend,” says JoAnn Rupp, Corbion’s Global Market Insights Manager. “We’ve found this to be especially true for younger consumers like millennials, who say they are simply too busy to sit down and eat a meal or to be bothered with cooking. As a result, they’re opting for more bite-sized products that can conveniently satisfy their cravings on the go.”

One area in particular where bakery manufacturers can capitalize on the snacking trend is breakfast foods. Nearly two-thirds of all consumers find breakfast snacks appealing, with 51% saying they occasionally eat breakfast sandwiches, 51% opting for donuts and 48% purchasing bagels.

Younger consumers are even more likely to seek snackable breakfast items, with 66% of millennials purchasing breakfast snacks, and Gen Z and Gen X consumers following close behind at 59%.

“Time scarcity and busy lifestyles are the primary forces behind the growing snacking trend.”

-JoAnn Rupp, Corbion’s Global Market Insights Manager

The top factors consumers consider when purchasing snacks are premiumization, indulgence, convenience and perceived health benefits. Bagels are likely perceived to be a healthier breakfast bread, and flavor varieties like cinnamon raisin, blueberry, onion and “everything” help broaden their appeal.

Still, as Rupp points out, sweet breakfast breads also hold their spot at the table, with nearly 40% of households consuming breakfast pastries like cinnamon rolls and muffins. By capitalizing on the need for convenience, as well as the growing demand for ‘better for you’ options, bakery manufacturers will be more likely to win big with the snacking community.

“There are significant opportunities for taste and flavor innovation, and smaller companies are leading the way,” she added. New brands are challenging the big brands and the traditional snacks they produce.

Snacking has made mini-cookies one of the breakthrough performers in the instore bakery department. Dollar sales of instore mini-cookies grew 9.9% last year, and volumes were up 9.2%. They now account for 9.6% of dollar share in the instore baked goods category, tops among all cookie sub-categories.

Breakfast All Day:

  • Peanut Butter Puffs (chocolate brownies topped with peanut butter and Reese’s Puffs cereal)
  • Sausage Dogs (a sausage or turkey link wrapped in Danish pastry and topped with maple syrup glaze or, for a savory twist, maple mustard)
  • Nutella Bites (cinnamon sugar mini muffins stuffed with Nutella)

Better For You:

  • Soft Baked Fruit Cookies (made with real fruit)
  • Bread Bites (made with ancient grains)
  • Carrot Cake Muffin (topped with toasted macadamia nuts)

World Traveler:

  • Maui Onion Sliders (ham and cheddar or turkey and swiss on a Hawaiian roll with an onion glaze and topped with poppy seeds)
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (featuring a spicy cayenne kick and toppings like churro-flavored icing or Red Hots or Hot Tamale candies)Italian Pinwheels (cream cheese, Italian seasonings, pepperoni, salami and provolone.”