According to Snacking in Canada, snacking proved the fastest growing meal occasion in the country in the past decade: “In 2000, snacks comprised 22 per cent of all meals eaten, whereas that number has increased to just over 24 per cent in 2010.”
In that period, Canadians have eaten just over 300 snack meals per person compared to Americans whose snack meals totalled approximately 230, observed the snack market specialists. But Canadians are more conscious of the nutritional value of their food choices, stressed Joel Gregoire, food and beverage industry analyst with the NPD Group.
“When choosing snack-oriented foods, Americans are more likely to gravitate towards salty options, while foods that are typically considered to be better for you are more prevalent in Canada,” he continued.
To this end, said Gregoire, one quarter of Canadian homemakers indicate that they are mindful of the calorie content in the meals they serve. However, the report also notes that potato chips are the fastest growing snack food in Canada, with consumption up 22 per cent from 2006.
The NPD findings following a study by Angus Reid Survey that was published in September last year and showed that almost one in five Canadians skip their lunch break in favour of surfing the internet or working at their desk.
The NDP study also reveals differences in snack consumption patterns depending on location and age.
When watching television, Canadians tend to graze on salty snacks, chocolate, confectionery and ice cream, noted the trend analysts.
Children, who rank as the highest consumers of snacks in the country, are more likely to eat a snack food when playing regular and video games, as are their teenage counterparts, with gum, potato chips and cookies listed as the top snack food choices during those occasions.
The industry analyst added that after the age of 44, health and weight control begin to increase in importance in snack choices for Canadians, with indulgence declining as a top consideration for selecting a snack-oriented food by almost five per cent.
While US consumers are more reliant on discount stores as a source for snack foods, Canadians are currently making most of their purchases at supermarkets, found the analysts.
The NDP group explained that the data used in the trends report is primarily drawn from two syndicated studies: National Eating Trends (NET), which analyses the foods and beverages that Canadians are consuming, and SnackTrack, a service that looks at the consumption habits across over 70 specific snack food categories.
The NET annual sample consists of 1,300 households (approximately 3,400+ individuals) reflective of the Canadian population, where each week, since 1997, a group of 25 households record the foods and beverages consumed by all household members.
Each household maintains a daily eating diary for one week.
The SnackTrack data is collected on-line, with a finished sample of approximately 25,000 individuals generating over 100,000 different eating occasions per year. Each panellist provides details of what they ate the day previously and the data is collated 365 days a year.