Britons spends four times as much on snacks as their Spanish counterparts, eating their way through €17.3 billion a year, finds a new report highlighting the ongoing opportunities for players in the snack industry.
But despite growing concern about unhealthy eating habits and obesity, consumers do not see snacking on-the-move as intrinsically unhealthy.
"Taste has the greatest influence on product choice and consumers are not prepared to compromise for added health benefits," say the report authors.
Their findings suggest new product development in the UK market will continue to build around convenience and comfort from eating and drinking while on the move.
In addition to travel, author of the report Danielle Rebelo claims that consumers are willing to multitask in order to "maximise their leisure time", attributing less importance to traditional mealtimes and more on going out.
Experimentation and indulgence often dominate the snacking occasion driven by boredom, and consumers are seeking greater sensory impact from their food and drinks, adds the report. And confirming recent reports on the flavour market, Datamonitor suggests that exotic flavours are growing in popularity and manufacturers are responding to consumers' needs by launching new products.
"For example, KP have extended their McCoy's range with McCoy's Spice, which include exotic flavours such as Balti Curry, Spiced Chili and Firecracker Chicken," say Datamonitor.
And from low to slow, the report suggests that the low carb trend has slowed after its recent peak and the flood of low carb positioned food and beverage products onto the UK market.
According to Datamonitor, slow carbs are now becoming increasingly popular, as consumers try to avoid the 'quick boost' and subsequent 'post-food lull' that often happens after consumption of foods such as bread.
McDonalds, for example, has recently added Quaker's 'OatsSo Simple' porridge to its breakfast menu to UK fast food outlets.
And while the food industry continues to roll out health-positioned food products to meet growing health concerns in society, Datamonitor research revealed that about one in four consumers believe eating between regular mealtimes is intrinsically unhealthy.
"Snacking is not seen as unhealthy but the product consumed determines one's attitude to the healthiness of the snacking occasion. Consumers desire healthy convenient products that provide guilt-free satisfaction," said Rebelo. "They are becoming more health conscious and this influences product choice, but taste remains the number one influencer."
At £204 (€291) a year, the British consumer stands far ahead as the number one snack fiend, compared to Sweden and Netherlands that come a distant second with £166 and £165 respectively, followed by Germany with £162 and France with £146.
Longer and more frequent journeys, changing working patterns, and a rising number of missed meals have all contributed to the growth of on-the-move snacking.
Driving generates most of the on-the-move consumption with frequent journeys and longer commuting encouraging travellers to relieve boredom by eating and drinking.
A major factor in UK snack spending, according to Datamonitor, in 2004 Britons recorded the highest number of journeys per day with an average of 6.4 journeys per person per day compared to the European average of 4.5.
Driving generates most of the on-the-move consumption and consumers are more likely to eat and drink on-the-move when the car journey includes a stop at a petrol station, where they have the opportunity for impulse purchases.