NPD Group

NPD Group

July 26, 2005 08:00 ET

Canada's Obesity Rates and Aging Population Trigger a Trend Towards Healthier Snacking; NPD Group's 2005 Snacking Report Measures The Pulse Of Canadian Eating Patterns

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - July 26, 2005) - Alarming obesity rates and a rapidly aging population are sparking a significant shift in Canadian eating patterns. According to NPD Group's 2005 Snacking Report, the population is reaching for healthy snacks at a far greater rate than indulging in traditional salty and sweet snacks. The report found that the top three fastest growing snacks in Canada are fruit, yogurt and nuts.

The percentage of people eating these top three snacks in an average week increased by more than three share points each in 2004 compared to 2000. In contrast, the average number of people who ate potato chips in an average week declined by more than seven share points, from 39 per cent down to 32 per cent of the population. This trend has not been lost on the food industry, as grocery and restaurants are recognizing consumers' willingness to pay a premium for healthier products.

"The trend towards healthier snacking alternatives is directly linked to anxieties over expanding waistlines and the aging process" said Marion Chan, Director, Food and Beverage, NPD Group Canada. "Both groups generally wish to slow, halt or reverse the process and snacking is the first and easiest place to make changes to their consumption behaviour."

Canadians' changing eating patterns are not only reflected in the kinds of snacks consumers choose, but in the snacking process itself. According to the 2005 Snacking Report, consumers are skipping conventional meals at an average of 3.8 times a week. However, meals are more often postponed rather than skipped, and can often reappear later in the day as a snack. An apple, for example, is far easier to access than preparing a meal.

The report also indicates that taste, convenience and hunger are major motivators in deciding which snacks to choose. Taste leads as the major motivator 47 per cent of the time, while convenience follows at 43 per cent and hunger at 42 per cent.

The 2005 Snacking Report highlights a number of factors that are driving eating habits, particularly for those Canadians that are aging or dieting. These factors include increasing awareness of food labelling, and sensitivity to issues such as salt, fat, sugar, calories or cholesterol. According to the report, 19 per cent of Canadian adults are on a diet and 52 per cent read food labels to avoid eating certain ingredients.

Other Interesting Findings:

Brown bagging replaces eating snacks at home

The report also found a definitive change in where Canadians eat, where we purchase and how we prepare our food. Over the last five years the number of snacks that are prepared and eaten at home has dropped seven share points, while carrying snacks from home has jumped six share points. This transformation is supported by the fact that 71 per cent of snack eating occasions are currently sourced from grocery locations.

Teens are forsaking food choice to gain control elsewhere

According to the report, adults are increasingly deciding what types of snacks will be brought into their homes.

"Teens priorities are changing. They are giving up control of their food choices in order to negotiate more involvement in decisions regarding their clothing and entertainment," says Chan. "Over the past five years adults purchasing snacks on their kids behalf has risen 10 share points, while the influence of kids has dropped six share points."

Kids of all ages are eating healthier snacks as well. From 2000 to 2004 the hottest three snacks for kids were yogurt, fruit cups and granola bars, which have all seen a five share point increase.

"The 2005 Snacking Report confirms a direct correlation between an increased demand for healthier snacks and a rapidly aging and obese population," says Marion Chan, Director, Food and Beverage, NPD Group Canada. "As this snacking trend continues, it will force manufacturers and restaurant operators in Canada to become more tuned in to consumer needs through creative new food product development and product messaging."

About the 2005 Snacking Report

NPD Canada used its experience with consumption tracking and diary panels to design NPD SnackTrack®, a convenience and snack foods study. It tracks all eating situations, both in-home and away, for specific, predetermined food categories. SnackTrack provides full detail on consumption of specific products to capture all of the situational dynamics that make consumption information valuable. No other source collects information on all snack and convenience food sources and eating situations.

Each year 3,000 panelists - including kids - are asked to complete diaries for one week. At the close of each quarter, the final sample is re-weighted to Statistics Canada statistical norms, to provide a representative picture of the population's snacking habits and changes over time.

About The NPD Group, Inc.

Since 1967 The NPD Group has provided reliable and comprehensive sales and marketing information for a wide range of industries. Today more than 1,300 manufacturers and retailers rely on NPD to help them better understand their customers, product categories, distribution channels and competition.



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