CHICAGO -- Fresh fruit is not only the top snack food consumed in America, it is also one of the fastest growing, according to new snacking research from The NPD Group, a leading global information company. NPD's recently released Snacking in America report finds that growing concerns about health and eating right are contributors to the increasing popularity of fruit as a snack.
One of the reasons that fruit holds the top snack position is that it is eaten throughout the day, resulting in its inclusion in more snack occasions than other snack foods. During the two-year period ending March 2012, fresh fruit was consumed as a snack in 10 more snack occasions a year than chocolate, the next top snack food, and 25 more occasions a year than potato chips, the third most popular snack food.
NPD's snack research finds that consumption of snack-oriented foods is motivated by different needs: health and weight, hunger satiety, on-the-go/convenience, routine/habit, cravings, and a treat/reward when watching TV, visiting friends or other social activities. Fresh fruit ranks #1 in five of the six needs states — health and weight, hunger satiety, convenience, routine/habit, and satisfying a craving.
Another factor contributing to the popularity of fresh fruit is that it is a favorite snack among all ages, according to the Snacking in America report. Consumers 65 and older eat the most fruit, followed by children under 12. Teens, ages 13 to 17, eat the least amount of fruit but their consumption increases as they get older.
Another aspect of the fruit consumer, other than their age, is the type of snacker they are. Healthier snack consumers snack more often between meals and eat a wider variety of healthy snacks, and fruit is the top go-to snack for these consumers.
"Taking the who, what, when, and where of fresh fruit consumption into account, the point to be made is that fresh fruit is a top-of-mind snack with most consumers," said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst. "Among the opportunities this trend presents to producers and produce retailers to market and merchandise fruit around the activities during which it is most likely to be eaten, usage can be expanded with packaging innovation and promotions for on-the-go activities when it's least likely to be consumed."
The NPD Group, Chicago, provides global information and advisory services to companies in the automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food/foodservice, home, office supply, sports, technology, toy, video game and wireless sectors.