Frito-Lay US Snack Index: Summer snacking is key as Americans ease back into their pre-pandemic lives

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chips are the top snack to stock up on for nearly all summer activities, according to Frito-Lay's US Snack Index. Pic: GettyImages/Andrii Bicher
Chips are the top snack to stock up on for nearly all summer activities, according to Frito-Lay's US Snack Index. Pic: GettyImages/Andrii Bicher

Related tags: Frito Lay, Frito-Lay US Snack Index, Memorial day, Lay's, Crisps, coronavirus, ecommerce, pandemic

With Memorial Day fast approaching, Americans are excited to tiptoe back into the world and catch up on activities they missed out on last year.

Frito-Lay’s latest US Snack Index reveals that while people are excited to get out and about during the warmer months, some pandemic behaviours will be sticking around for good.

Eight in 10 Americans say they have already made plans for Memorial Day (31 May), either hosting a get together at home or venturing further afield.

Popular activities include attending a barbecue (27%); spending time at the park (13%); visiting the beach (13%); travelling (12%); and playing outdoor sports (8%).

Five in 10 vaccinated adults note they plan to spend time with people outside of their household. However, 35% of those say they will probably enjoy the weekend at home – drastically different from last year when 82% said they were planning to stay home.

As things begin to open up, the Snack Index sees Americans increasingly return to pre-pandemic habits, with 88% of people making regular grocery store trips (up 14% from 2020). However, retailers are also ensuring they’re keeping pace with today’s consumer who is now used to convenience at the touch of a button. 

The snackification trend is alive and well, and snacks continue to be the second biggest food contributor to sales growth at retail. However, ecommerce continues to boom, with online snack sales up approximately 73% year-over-year.

53% of Americans buy their snacks online through big-box retailers, wholesale distributors or through store delivery, signalling that this pandemic trend may be here to stay. For Frito-Lay, ecommerce has already been on an accelerated growth path and the company anticipates it to double by 2025.

Summer snacking

When it comes to snacking, 84% cite treats as a staple of the season, while 80% say they are essential to enhance the moments they most enjoy. The majority of Americans (88%) say their favourite summer snack reminds them of good times.

Chips are the top snack to stock up on for nearly all summer activities. More than half of the respondents (68%) say they will stick with the classic flavours, but bolder tones are quickly gaining popularity.

Americans are definitely more adventurous compared to last year – with 32% prepared to try something new this year versus only 25% in 2020. This is exponentially higher among the younger generations, with 45% of young adults (18-34 years) stating they will be selecting the spicier offerings this summer.

To capitalise on this preference, Frito-Lay has introduced three new limited-edition flavours:​ Chile Mango, Wavy Jerk Chicken and Summer BLT.

Almost four in 10 Americans admit to consuming more snacks now than they did before, and 22% say they will snack more this summer that they did pre-pandemic. This is higher among younger generations with 52% of young adults (18-34 years) snacking more.

Millennials and Gen Zs are also more likely to try new snacks: 70% claim they have tried new snacks, compared to 32% of people over 65.

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