Frito-Lay’s U.S. Snack Index Predicts Consumer Trends Amidst an Increasing Time Crunch

The fifth annual U.S. Snack Index confirms what many of us are feeling – there are simply not enough hours in the day. A lack of time to prepare, eat and enjoy meals – especially among parents and younger generations – will blur the once-clear line between “snacks” and “meals” in 2024. In fact, one-third of Americans have just 30 minutes to prepare and enjoy meals — less time than their average work commutes and TV shows.

While Frito-Lay and Quaker’s latest Snack Index confirms that time is scarce, the data also reinforces the fierce passion that consumers have for their food preferences. Consumer research by Frito-Lay and Quaker revealed three food and snacking trends poised to shape the year ahead:

The Time Crunch Dilemma

While there might technically always be 24 hours in a day, 80% of Americans feel like their days actually have fewer hours. This burden is most acutely felt by younger generations (85%) with no sign of letting up, as 60% of consumers expect demands to increase in the new year.

In 2024, Americans will say goodbye to hours spent marinating, chopping, roasting or baking. A proliferation of the “no-prep dinner,” defined as a simple meal that requires little effort to make, will continue to grow in popularity, alongside dinners rooted in Americans’ favorite snack products.

  • A Dash to Dine: According to the Index, the average American has only 52 total minutes per day to prepare, eat and enjoy their meals. One-third of consumers note having even less time, scraping together less than 30 minutes a day to prep and enjoy meals.
  • Snacks Move to Center Plate: More consumers are integrating their favorite snack products into meals, up 35% over previous years. Once a week, over half of consumers proudly use snacks as a key ingredient in no-prep dinners, while more than one-third seize this opportunity multiple times a week.
  • Top Truths: When asked why snacks are an important part of their no-prep repertoire, Americans report yearning for a specific snack (51%) and being too busy to cook (44%) as the top rationale.
  • #GirlDinner Debunked: The internet might have dubbed snack-focused meals as #GirlDinner, but in 2024, the trend is for everyone. Men (92%) report being just as likely to use snack foods in meals as women (93%), with 36% pushing snack and meal boundaries more than in previous years.

Introducing the Snack Savant

The rise of the self-proclaimed Snack Savant will undoubtedly make waves in 2024. There is no shame in their snack game, as the Savants proudly embrace all things food, adventure and community:

  • Defining the Snack Savant: Millennials (83%) and Gen Z (82%) are most likely to embrace this title, with the majority of these Snack Savants also being city dwellers (77%). They are resourceful – 55% report their favorite snack combinations are inspired by what is already in the pantry – and lean on social media for additional ideas (32%).
  • Snacking as an Art, Not an Act: 80% agree that combining multiple food products to create the perfect bite is an art form. While 65% admit to having eccentric snack combos, they are not the slightest bit embarrassed and will proudly “shout their unique combos from the rooftops” anyway.

Snacking for Tasty Satisfaction

In 2024, snacking will be centered on the importance of purpose, protein and packing a punch:

  • Protein Power: When eyeing snacks at the grocery store, Americans cite protein as the most important nutritional attribute (55%). Compared to previous years, an overwhelming 79% of consumers admit it’s more critical than ever for protein to take center stage – especially true for those most crunched on time (80%).
  • Energy Boost: At least once a week, 60% of consumers look to their favorite snack products to provide energy. Millennials (72%) are by far the generation most in need of a pick-me-up, compared to Gen Z (62%), Gen X (61%) and Baby Boomers (46%). Parents have everyone beat, with 72% leveraging snacks for energy.
  • Taste Triumphs: Across generations, nearly three-quarters of consumers (74%) refuse to sacrifice taste when selecting their snacks. Baby Boomers are the most unwilling to compromise on taste (84%), followed by Gen Xers at 75%.

No matter your snacking and food preferences, 2024 will be a year bursting with flavor. For more information, visit FritoLay.com/Snack-Index.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted between December 6 and December 12, 2023, among a national sample of 2,000 nationally representative US adults ages 18+. The interviews were conducted using an email invitation and an online survey. The data has been weighted to ensure an accurate representation of the U.S. adult population ages 18+.

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