Acosta Group: Consumers Continue to Snack, Opt for Healthier Choices

According to the survey, 61% of higher income households choose healthy snacks over junk food, and of total snack buyers, 15% say it's important for snacks to be natural or organic.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture

Ahead of the annual Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, Ill., Acosta Group has shared new insights on how consumers are continuing to enjoy snacks and candy. The new survey from the company offers valuable information for private brand developers looking to gain more market share in the categories.

"We wanted to learn more about the shopper path to purchase by understanding when and why shoppers are snacking, as well as where and what they're buying on different occasions or shopping trips," said Kathy Risch, SVP of Consumer Insights and Trends at Acosta Group, and a speaker at the expo, which will be held May 22-25. "We discovered consumer shopping preferences and generational differences that inform how brands and retailers can best meet the needs of today's consumers."  

According to the survey from the data agency, 40% of shoppers say they've eaten a large bag of salty snacks in one sitting, with that percentage rising to 74% for Gen Z and 60% for Millennials. More than four in 10 (43%) of those surveyed say they're usually snacking at night, and 32% often snack as a meal. 

When it comes to the types of snacks purchased, Millennials are large purchasers of frozen snacks and sides, granola and cereal bars, protein and nutrition bars and dried meat or jerky. This group is also snacking on-the-go, with 74% snacking at work and 63% snacking when traveling. Households with kids are also driving snack sales, with more of these families shopping weekly across multiple categories.

Like other categories, healthy eating is playing a role in the types of snack products being purchased. According to Acosta Group, shoppers today choose evenly between healthy snacks (49%) and "junk food" (51%), however, 61% of higher income households choose healthy snacks. Of total snack buyers, 15% say it's important for snacks to be natural or organic.


For candy buyers, chocolate is preferred (82%) over non-chocolate, with 54% of shoppers saying they eat more candy than they should. Four in 10 are eating candy at least once a day, with Millennials and higher income households eating more. Taste is the number one reason for candy selection, followed by high quality ingredients, good value and a favorite brand.

Citing high prices and health concerns, 30% of shoppers say they're buying less candy than last year. Candy sales are also at risk due to the increased use of self-checkout, preferred by 76% of Gen Z and 73% of Millennial shoppers. More than 25% of all candy sales occur at checkout.

"With this study, we've identified several standout opportunities to support continued growth for CPG brands in snack and candy," said Darian Pickett, CEO, Sales Agency, Acosta Group. "At Acosta Group, we bring multiple capabilities to the table to provide a one-stop shop to drive customer purchase and loyalty, build integrated omnichannel plans and support brand innovation for category expansion."