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US singles drive the latest snacking trends

Single adults are a growing demographic in the US, and food makers are working to satisfy their appetite for snacks.

3 min read


Photo: Janet Forgrieve

US single women outnumbered married ones for the first time ever starting in 2009, and only 20% of Americans age 18-29 are married compared to about 60% in 1960, according to a recent New York magazine story. It’s a demographic trend that affects many aspects of life, from political attitudes to career paths to parenting choices to snacking styles.

And it’s driving some trends in packaged snacks. Searches for info and recipes on bite-sized snacks such as mug cakes, Buffalo cauliflower bites and mac-and-cheese bites have been on the rise in recent months, according to a recent Google report.

“Consumers are more complex when it comes to food choices, and snacking has become more personal. Brands will need to offer more than just customization based on flavors, but dietary restrictions, as well. Personal choices come best in solo portions,” the report says.

Americans are eating more snack foods at mealtimes, driven largely by the 38 million who live alone, according to NPD Group, and singletons often chose their snacks based on concerns about health and weight. One of the most-frequent reasons single consumers cite for choosing specific snacks is that they come in single-serve packages, according to NPD’s report.

Health and convenience are the top two factors when consumers make snack choices, according to Mintel, but they’re also still choosing chips, nuts, cookies and other salty and sweet snacks. Sales of salty snacks are on track to hit $6.8 billion by 2019, according to a Mintel report.

Consumer packaged food brands have been making a growing array of single-serve snack options. Some, like single-serve desserts, are indulgent offerings made to eat in a single sitting. A growing number of others feed demand for healthy options, from single-portion cups of Sabra hummus and pretzels to squeeze packs of Justin’s Nut Butters to the ever-growing array of snack bars on display at grocery and convenience stores.

Shelves are also full of 100-calorie snacks, from Skinny Pop popcorn to cookies to chips.

Some of the newer snack items aimed at singles:

Chia Pod, a high-fiber pudding made from chia seed, banana and coconut that comes in 170-calorie single-serve cups

Baby carrots and Dippers with single-serve ranch dip cups from Grimmway Farms.

Justin’s Nut Butters with pretzels for dipping, including Classic Almond Butter, Maple Almond Butter and Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Sabra hummus and pretzels in 4.5-ounce grab-and-go cups

100-calorie packs of Wonderful Pistachios in flavors including salt-and-pepper and sweet chili

Larabar Minis, 100-calorie or less versions of the popular raw fruit and nut bars in flavors such as Apple Pie, Cherry Pie and Cashew Cookie.


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