Snacks & Candy

Flavor Combos, Small Sizes Prioritized in Snacking

Frito-Lay’s 2022 Summer Snacking Index provides purchasing data
Summer Snacking Index
Photograph courtesy of Frito-Lay

PLANO, Texas — Frito-Lay polled consumers in its latest Summer Snacking Index to find out snacking preferences. Flavor innovation, individual sizes and the social aspect of snacking are top priorities.

The snack maker conducted the survey online with a national sample of 2,200 adults and an additional 200 adults aged 18-34. It weighted the data to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, according to Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay.

When asked what affected their preferences when shopping, 35% of consumers stated that innovative flavors are the biggest influencer, which was the highest scoring response. Within each demographic, 42% of consumers stated that they would choose flavor combinations such as sweet and spicy or tangy and salty over traditional, regional, textured and international flavors.

Furthermore, innovative snack flavors are a larger influence than recommendations (28%), brand recognition (21%), packaging (9%) or sustainability efforts (7%).

Trying new snacks is another popular trend among Americans, with 40% saying they are excited to find a snack with a flavor they love but have never had in a snack product before.  

Snacking preferences also vary among different age groups. While 81% of all Americans enjoy the social aspect of snacking, 45% of Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to prefer eating in solitude.

When it comes to parents, a busy schedule and on-the-go lifestyle translates to the desire for smaller sizes and more snacking overall. Replacing meals with snacks several times per day is a habit that 52% of parents are likely to keep. More than two in five parents will buy or create individually packaged snacks in advance before travelling this summer.

Another snacking trend is gateway snacking. Trying new snack flavors led 44% of all respondents to try more foods with the same flavors, and 58% of 18–34-year-old consumers have eaten more foods featuring a flavor that they had initially experienced in a snack. 

“During the summer, people explore new activities, new places and enjoy new flavors of snacks as they attend more outdoor gatherings,” said Mike Del Pozzo, chief customer officer at Frito-Lay North America. “While flavor continues to drive consumers’ food-purchasing behaviors, we know how a company behaves matters, and that’s why I’m proud of Frito-Lay’s commitment to sustainability and community impact.”  

While ingredient integrity and flavor exploration have the most influence over food and snack choice for all demographics, more than half of 18-34-year-old consumers said that they consider a brand’s ethics and sustainability practices when purchasing. The survey noted that 77% cared about snack companies’ attention to sustainability practices, 78% value the community impact around food access and 87% consider treatment of employees when making purchasing decisions.

Sustainability plays a factor in 66% of consumers’ snack purchasing, and 74% of adults are more interested in naturally sourced ingredients than production-related factors like recycled packaging, compostable packaging or products made with recycled water.

Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay North America Brands is a division of PepsiCo., Purchase, N.Y., which also makes brands including bubly, Gatorade, Pepsi, Lipton, Mtn Dew, Propel, Quaker and more.

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