Snacking & Cooking Trends

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US Snacking Trends

Some current snacking trends in the United States include indulgent but healthy snacking, increased preference for flavors with global influence, and higher snacking frequency.

Indulgent but Healthy Snacking

  • Consumers are showing preference for indulgent, but also healthy snack options.
  • Consumers may opt to snack on vegetables or fruit, but allow themselves a chips snack for the next one. They also have a preference for healthy indulgence in the same snack, with snackers choosing wholegrain or vegan snacks to satisfy snack urges while supporting good intentions.
  • Consumers are also drawn to snacks that offer new sources of protein on the go.
  • This trend is driven by the consumers' coming to terms with the reality of their own mortality. Projections indicate that 'by 2020, preventable diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart attacks will contribute to 73% of all deaths.'
  • Consumers are, as a result, driven to opt for healthier lifestyles and options that provide solutions to these rising concerns.

Flavors with Global Influence

  • Studies indicate that international flavors top US snack preferences.
  • 26% of consumers surveyed prefer flavors from Latin America, 14% prefer mainland Asia flavors, while comfort foods that mix regional flavors are the most popular options.
  • The snacks that consumers lean towards as new sources of protein are both sweet and savory snack foods such as yogurts enriched with protein.
  • This trend is driven by consumers' increased openness to the experience of unusual flavors and willingness to eat foods that are bold, spicy, and culturally diverse. In a survey, 44% of consumers indicated that their "flavor preferences were driven by travels."
  • The proliferation of social media has also "brought the desire for global flavors into the mainstream."

Higher Snacking Frequency


In order to identify and describe current snacking trends in the United States, we read extensively through food industry expert platforms, market research reports, consumer behavior survey reports, and food magazines. The current trends were identified as such by virtue of being listed in at least two or more of the selected sources.
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US Cooking Habits

Some changes in cooking habits in the last three to five years include the rising trend of meal kits and more Americans have developed a preference for finding recipes on social media rather than cookbooks.

U.S. Cooking Habits

The Rise of Meal Kits

  • A shift has occurred recently regarding cooking at home, whereby an increasing number of people have developed a preference for pre-cooked meal kits as opposed to preparing meals from scratch.
  • Meal kits contain pre-portioned ingredients and recipe instructions for a complete dish that consumers prepare and cook for themselves. Due to the convenience and time-saving advantage of this cooking habit, more individuals are embracing it.
  • The method is considered cheaper than ordering take-out and offers home cooks the added advantage of broadening their portfolio through exposure to various peculiar ingredients.
  • In the United States, one in four adults reportedly have bought a meal kit within the last year, and about 70% of them continued using the service following their first purchase.
  • Most of those who have undergone this change in cooking habits in recent years are consumers that enjoy cooking or splendid home-cooked meals. However, they lack skills or time, particularly young families that are usually rushed for time.
  • Additional motivations include the key aspect that the frustrations of meal planning have already been completed for the consumer, with allergies and dietary preferences having also been specified as well as portion size and the necessary time to cook.
  • Furthermore, families that have kids are about 326% more inclined to buy a meal kit than those that do not, emphasizing the time limitations and burden that busy families experience during meal time.
  • Also, this cooking habit serves as a potential solution for the obesity crisis. It helps consumers who want to lose weight as they know exactly what they are eating and how its portions are managed.

More Americans Prefer Finding Recipes on Social Media Rather than Cookbooks

  • Many Americans are starting to prefer locating recipes and inspirations for their meals through social media platforms, namely Pinterest or Instagram, as opposed to cookbooks.
  • According to a recent survey, the percentage of Americans that admit to having posted photos of their home-cooked meals on social media in the last six months was 22%, while 44% of those in the “millennial” age range had done so in the same time frame.
  • When it comes to social media, 34% of the respondents reported preferring to find recipe inspiration via Pinterest or Instagram, while 17% got their inspiration from cookbooks.
  • In the same survey, slightly less than 50% of millennials favored locating recipes through social media.
  • An additional recent change in cooking habits is that more millennials are developing a preference for testing out brand-new recipes when compared to previous years.
  • There is also a growing shift in the cooking habits of millennials as they are choosing to cook meals with their romantic partner.

Research Strategy:

Our research began by searching through credible industry publications such as Fine Cooking, Cuisine At Home, Food Network, among others to find pre-compiled articles highlighting ways that cooking habits have changed in the U.S. in the last few years. These industry publications usually publish or write about recent or past history of how habits have shifted from the point of view of industry experts or other competent panelists. Using this research strategy, we did not find relevant data, but we came across a publication from Grocery Dive that discussed a gradual, recent shift concerning a rising number of people developing a preference for pre-cooked meal kits due to its convenience the time it saves.

Next, we scoured through news articles from publications like Forbes, Bloomberg, New York Times, and QRS Magazine to see if any industry expert with a considerable understanding of this subject had been interviewed. Though this research strategy did not provide interviews involving industry experts, we were able to find a survey revealing that more Americans prefer to find their recipes via social media as opposed to cookbooks.

We then consulted academic and scholarly journals related to find research highlighting the ways in which cooking habits have changed in the last three to five years in the U.S. We believed that this approach would lead to results as scholars typically carry out research as part of their academic work to showcase important histories related to the field. However, this research strategy did not yield a positive result as we only found examinations that were limited to the changing gender roles concerning cooking habits within the last three to five years.

Finally, we searched through news articles, press releases, and media publications on related topics such as Cooking Light, Taste of Home, Grocery Dive, Bon Appétit, among others. Through this strategy, we were able to identify three ways in which cooking habits have changed in the last three to five years. These include the rising trend of meal kits and more Americans have developed a preference for finding recipes on social media rather than cookbooks.