Historically ‘snacking’ was something you’d be made to feel guilty for by your parents or partner, or something you’d insist is the reason why your child is not eating their dinner!
‘You won’t eat all of your dinner…’
For many, the words ‘You'd have managed all of your dinner if you hadn’t eaten that packet of crisps earlier!’ resonate around the dinner table because your Mother slaved over a hot stove for you to waste half of it. My Mum would be torn between letting me snack throughout the day to put some meat on my skinny frame, and telling me to leave the crisps, biscuits and yoghurts to save some room for my dinner, a meal that would deliver the majority of my nutrients for the days ahead.
A societal shift in mentality
Recently we have seen a change in how people act, be it with social media, clothes shopping or dining out, we now seem to be spoilt by choice and disposable commodities which make it too easy for us to make choices based on the ‘time commitment’ they impose. This has meant that convenience is king, and all markets are tapping into this, especially the food industry.
Snacking is on the rise
Recent figures show that snacking is on the rise, it is understood that just 10% of people regularly snacked back in the 1970’s, but that figure rose significantly to 56% in 2010! Now these figures may go some way to explaining the damning rise in obesity we now face, but despite the unquestionable rise in high sugar, high fat snacks we binge on (doughnuts, confectionary, sugary drinks and crisps), it does seem that ‘snacking’ is becoming a little more healthy, and it’s causing a lot of satisfaction among manufacturers, retailers AND consumers.
A 2013 survey by Hartman Group (cited in The Los Angeles Times) found that 90% of consumers snack multiple times a day, with many of these snacks being high in sugar, salt and fat. Calorie, sugar and fat dense snacks provide a lot of satisfaction, they are quick and cheap options that are all too convenient for many to resist.
However, manufacturers are now cleverly taking an apparent weakness of the population, and turning it into a strength. Seeing as we are so keen on these convenient, bite sized mini- meals, why not embrace the ‘snacking’ trend that is taking the world (literally) by storm. It used to be that we were expected to consume 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), and that was your lot, however current recommendations mean that we now consume 5-6 smaller meals over the course of the day, similar to the way a cow grazes.
Close to 50% of meals we consume are eaten alone, one of the reasons many bachelors (not all, but many) opt for microwaveable meals or takeaways. However, with the ‘wellness trend’ we find ourselves in, many snacks are produced with lower total calories and much more total nutritional value. Research from Nielsen shows that 45% of consumers worldwide regularly consume a snack as an alternative to a meal, 52% of these do so at breakfast, 43% at lunch and 40% even snacking at dinner time…the time when most would (and arguably, should) be sat down eating with friends, family and other loved ones.
Are we losing social value?
It could be argued that this ‘snackification’ trend is causing us to lose touch with social endeavours. This being said, I firmly believe that if done correctly, snacking can be a perfect way to enrich our total nutritional intake, which if timed correctly can ‘add to’ our nutritional wellbeing and health.
All in all I think it’s very fair to say that ‘snackification’ i.e. the feeling of satisfaction many get from eating quick and convenient grub, is positive. Smaller meals (so long as they’re nutritionally dense) have a very real place in society, but the key to getting it right is achieving balance…in my opinion, this is where the problem really lies.
Nutraingredients.com, (2015). Arla’s protein rich cake mix takes advantage of snackification trend. Retrieved 7th Sept, 2015, from
Los Angeles Times, (2014). The snackification of everything. Retrieved 7th Sept, 2015, from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-akst-snacks-20141221-story.html