Consumer’s Attitudes Surrounding Eating Occasions Are Changing: Here’s The Dish

March 04, 2019 (Mon)

There is something nostalgic about gathering around the table for mealtimes; it means family, time spent together and forging connections between those gathering to dine. Recent trends, however, point towards a decline in mealtime formalities with an increase in snacking. How will this affect the dairy protein market?


Breakfast and Lunch Makeover

When it comes to most mealtimes there is less emphasis on them anchored to specific times; for example lunch is always at 12pm is history. Meals like breakfast and lunch are now eaten “as time provides,” and are being replaced with snack and convenience foods. In fact, according to a survey by the Hartman Group a staggering 91% of consumers snack multiple times a day. This leaves huge opportunities for developers to formulate snacks with added protein, something our bodies need every day.


Growing Markets

With the whey protein market growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% and milk protein not far behind at 6.8%, we can expect more protein in snacks and convenience foods. Simply look at the available selections in grocery stores: the variety of snacks is exponentially growing, and being driven by this shift in consumer’s behaviors. But why snacks?


Snacks Are Hot

The food industry has been enriching snacks and convenience foods (i.e. single serve) with additional protein. From meal replacement bars featuring whey and milk proteins, snack bars, pancakes and single-serve containers of overnight oatmeal, protein is everywhere. And it’s not slowing down.


Snacks are fun, easy and convenient. While they weren’t always a part of our daily culture (just a few decades back they were associated with “dirty street vendors”), snacks are booming because they offer a unique, fun way for consumers to engage in a variety of flavors. Much like going out for tapas allows the diner to experience multiple small portion items, so do snacks, and consumers like variety and options.  


Snacks also offer a unique way of controlling calories throughout the day – breakfast or lunch. The modern consumer is very health conscience and this unique feature of smaller-portioned foods is a welcomed addition to their diet. From the 100-calorie pack, the variety of crunchy snacks like puffs and chips (with tantalizing flavors like Thai Curry Maple, Chipotle Honey and Carolina BBQ) to drinkable yogurts, snacks and smaller portioned foods are everywhere.


Dinnertime is Family Time

Dinner as an eating occasion is still about family and not at risk for being downgraded to a bunch of snacks (though we know some kids wouldn’t object). We still like to gather and dine with our families for dinner, even though it may not be at a consistent time each day. While most dinner ideas are decided that day (typically within an hour of eating), they are becoming increasingly more semi-homemade. Food companies are capitalizing on this by making more one skillet meal recipes and easy-to-make foods at home – and guess what they’re touting? How much protein is in each meal. Manufacturers are using dairy proteins in the skillet sauces to give a nutritional and hunger-satiating boost.


But fear not – not all breakfasts and lunches will be relegated to snacks and small portions. American’s still cherish and love their Sunday brunch and weekend family breakfasts. This just shows that when time is available we’ll still choose to eat together and make an event of it – no matter how lavish or simple. Food is a central part of living, and that’s one fact that is not changing. But when it comes to snacks and convenience foods, expect them to get a protein boost to help keeping consumers more satisfied.