Two pints of lager and a … banana

April 07, 2010, 12:53 AM GMT+0

Over half of adults in the UK (55%) snack on fresh fruit in between meals, a major new report on the snacking habits of adults and children under 18 in the UK has found. Less healthy options are not completely dismissed though, as 45% of respondents admit to snacking on biscuits, 43% on crisps and bagged snacks and 41% on chocolate.

However, children appear to be keen on fresh fruit, which tops the snack league table at 69% compared to crisps at 64% and chocolates or sweets at 61%. The fact that fresh fruit comes out on top undoubtedly reflects parental choice, with the majority of parents keen for their children to eat healthily.

Commenting on the results, James McCoy, Research Director for YouGov SixthSense, says ‘Whether or not children would actually choose fresh fruit over crisps or chocolate if given the choice is irrelevant. The fact that fruit comes top of the list suggests a strong awareness among children of what constitutes healthy eating.’

Home is where the heart is – and so are the snacks

Although people can essentially snack anywhere and anytime, over three quarters of snackers still choose to munch while at home. A third snack at work, college or school, while only 16% snack while travelling or commuting. Snacking while walking down the street is clearly still an anathema in the UK: only two percent admit to breaking this social taboo.

‘Snacking occasions are often planned, with snack products forming part of the weekly shopping trip. They’re not necessarily the impulse purchase you might think they are,’ continues McCoy. ‘Clearly, home is not only where the heart is, but also where the snacks are.’

The fact that home is so important to the snacking market may explain the popularity of toast, which is eaten as a snack by 27% of adults and 41% of children. ‘While toast is clearly not a ready-to-eat product,’ says McCoy, ‘its prominence in the snacking arena could point towards opportunities in the catering market.’

Mind over stomach

It seems hunger is what drives most people to snack (or at least, they think it is), particularly men. 45% of adults and 64% of children cite this as the main driver when snacking on crisps and bagged snacks. However, women are more likely to cite emotional drivers, such as boredom (44% vs. 35% of men), coping with stress (12% vs. four percent of men), and to ‘cheer myself up’ (14% vs. seven percent of men).

‘While men and women are equally likely to snack in between meals, women exhibit far fewer concrete motivations: their desire to snack tends to come from the mind rather than the stomach,’ says McCoy. ‘This means that while men seek larger pack sizes, women may opt for more indulgent flavours and concepts to treat themselves or cheer themselves up.’

What’s in a brand?

The report also reveals that brand name has a strong bearing on deciding which snack to choose. For example, following the recent announcement of Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury, 43% of UK adults say that they will stop buying Cadbury’s products if they change in any way as a result. Five percent of respondents claim to be boycotting Cadbury’s products because of the takeover.

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