Fruit Ripe for Marketing

NPD study shows kids prefer snacks off the vine, tree

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. -- The NPD Group finds that kids eat fresh fruit more often than any other snack-oriented food. It is the top snack food consumed by boys and girls between ages 2 and 12.

Everyday NPD's SnackTrack collects snack-food consumption habits for both kids and adults. NPD also tracks the situations when snack foods are consumed to give a complete picture of Americans' snacking habits.

There's not much current data available on the actual eating patterns of kids in this country, but at The NPD Group, thousands of [image-nocss] people a year provide us with information on their daily snacking habits. And while chips, cookies and candy are among the most popular snack foods, it's surprising to see that the No. 1 category of snacks consumed by children is fresh fruit, said Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. As people age, fruit drops down a little on the list, but it still remains one of the most popular snacks at any age. Later in life, fresh fruit will become the most popular again.

Snacking has always been a more important part of a child's diet than an adult's diet. Children under 18 years of age consume snack foods 23% more often than adults. The average child eats snack foods about 530 times per year, compared to the average adult who only eats them about 430 times per year.

Chewing gum tops the list as the No. 1 snack food among adults. The NPD Group's SnackTrack finds that gum is ubiquitous among men and women snackers. Age is a factor in the gum-chewing habits of Americans. It begins to show up as a popular snack among kids under 13, but doesn't rank as No. 1 until the teenage years.

People are just walking around waiting for this snack to happen, they don't necessarily have to think about buying a pack of gum because it can fit anywhere and can last for a while, said Balzer. How long will a banana last in your purse or briefcase?

NPD finds that chocolate candy is the second-most-popular snack food for adults under 55 years old. I expect that marketers will continue to look to provide adults with new offerings of gum and candy as these are their most popular snacks, said Balzer.

It's is also worth comparing the snack choices of men and women; they are more alike than different!

Keep an eye on nuts, ... a very popular food among older Americans, said Balzer. NPD's data shows that 28% of men and 24% of women over 65 eat nuts at least once a week compared to 13% of adults under 65 years of age. Did I hear, Nuts for the Boomers?' said Balzer.