Milking Dairy Snacks

Research reveals growth opportunity, occasion categories

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- A new Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy white paper spotlights the snacking eating occasion as an attractive strategic focus area for dairy product innovation. Drawing on 18 months of consumer and industry research, its findings provide a roadmap for dairy's incremental growth in this eating occasion. Today, dairy products account for just 13% of all between-meal snack choices for people two years and older, presenting a large opportunity for the industry to grow its share of the snacking eating occasion.

To fully realize the occasion's potential, the dairy [image-nocss] industry should develop products that go beyond what is available today. It also identifies five key segments that best align with dairy or dairy ingredient-based products and offer the greatest opportunity for incremental growth in the dairy industry: Morning Energy: A quick need for energy in the morning. Tasty PM Meals: Consumed with a meal, such as chips or cheese. Substantial Crunch: More filling snacks, usually consumed after lunch to tide the consumer over. Naturally Nutritious: Eaten between breakfast and lunch, and often less processed. Sweet Bites: Tasty and often poppable to eat between meals while doing something else.

"Dairy is underdeveloped in the snacking eating occasion despite its ability to provide food and beverage manufacturers with the tools to develop great tasting and healthy snacks that consumers demand," said said Lynn Stachura, senior vice president of strategic insights with Dairy Management Inc. "Innovations in this area will not only grow dairy's share of the occasion but also fill a void for consumers as the market continues to grow."

She added, "By re-imagining dairy products and ingredients in snacks, food manufacturers can take advantage of a significant business opportunity. Snack-based innovations are seemingly unlimited, especially for those incorporating dairy products and ingredients that are versatile, wholesome, natural, nutritious and delicious."

Currently, a $90 billion eating occasion, snacking continues to grow. Today, practically everyone snacks, with 87% of U.S. consumers reporting eating or drinking between meals. This translates into an astounding 850 million eating occasions annually, according to The NPD Group.

As consumer lifestyles change, the lines between meals and snacking are starting to blur. Currently, 30% of consumers claim to eat mini meals throughout the day rather than three main meals, and another quarter desire to do so.

A key dairy focus area is nutritious snacking, which makes up half the snacking eating occasion and is supported by research indicating that health is an important consideration to consumers. Dairy's nutritious profile naturally aligns with consumer demand for healthy snacks.

To receive a copy of the white paper "Snacking: Identifying a World of Opportunities for Dairy," visit

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy provides a forum for the dairy industry to work pre-competitively to address barriers to and opportunities for innovation and sales growth. It aligns the collective resources of the industry to offer consumers nutritious dairy products and ingredients, and to promote the health of people, communities, the planet and the industry. The board represents leaders of more than 30 key U.S. producer organizations, dairy cooperatives, processors, manufacturers and brands. The Innovation Center is supported and staffed by Dairy Management Inc.