The global survey of 5,000 consumers suggests that 60 per cent of European and US consumers had sought convenient and healthy food and drinks in 2006, and more than a third had looked for indulgent snacks more regularly than in previous years. "Producers need to focus on building real trust between themselves and consumers through developing products that credibly offer health benefits and at the same time meet the impulsive indulgent needs that drive snack consumption," said Richard Parker, author of the resulting report. The Datamonitor survey suggested more than 20 per cent of consumers in Europe and the US were seeking more healthy snacking options than previously, but they want products that are convenient to their hectic lifestyles. The analyst suggested that consumers are seeking snacks that are healthy, convenient and indulgent, causing difficulty for manufacturers as the term 'healthy' is not often linked to convenience or indulgence. "Although healthy products remain a small percentage of overall indulgent snack releases, the indication is that a growing number of consumers with to snack indulgently, but in a "guilt-free" manner," said Parker. Datamonitor said that consumers are more in control and better educated in health issues, and more aware of what they should or should not eat. This has led to an increasing demand for snacks with functional benefits, such as added vitamins or antioxidants, as well as so-cal 'low and lite' foods. However, the survey suggested that 80 per cent of consumers in Europe and the US want food manufacturers to enhance the flavour and tastiness of healthy products, meeting the more indulgent reason for snacking. "Snacking is a strongly sensory-based and emotive experience, and is often a response to stress or a momentary form of escapism," added Parker. "If that is to be fulfilling in a healthy way, then the indulgent characteristics must still be satisfied." Difficulties for food manufacturers are that consumers are still sceptical of snacks and beverages claiming they have 'healthier' benefits, and that consumers sometimes choose snacks for their indulgent properties, despite being aware of healthier options.