Debunking the prevailing wisdom that most snacking is happening “on the go.”

Nibbling and munching throughout the day in the U.S. is now culturally acceptable eating behavior, so much so that snacking is free of much of the associated guilt it once carried with it. A common theme in industry media about modern snacking, whether health and wellness-oriented or indulgent, is that Americans have become comfortable with eating on the fly, based on whims and cravings. 
Snacking has evolved from merely an incidental eating behavior to a purposeful, rich cultural practice. While we believe that snacking has upended traditional, daily food rituals, with the vast majority of consumers snacking multiple times throughout the day and some individuals foregoing meals altogether, our data and analysis finds, however, that snacking doesn’t actually occur “on the go” to the level or in ways portrayed by the media and industry analysts. 
Using our proprietary Hartman Eating Occasions Compass database, our data scientists conducted a deep dive into the actual location where snacking occurs (in general) as well as a dive into what’s going on during “on-the-go” snacking (defined as snacking that occurs while traveling in a car, bus, plane, train, etc.). 
The result of our analysis tells a different story about snacking on the go: we find that only 3.4% of all snacks are consumed while in transit. This is comparable to the number of snacking occasions that take place in a restaurant (4.5% of snacking) and about a third the size of workplace snacking (11% of all snacking takes place at work). The vast majority of snacking occurs in the home (70% of all snack occasions take place in the home).
If we take a closer look at who is more likely to snack while in transit, we find that, not surprisingly, 53% of on-the-go snacks are consumed by Millennials, who significantly over index for this behavior. 
The lion’s share of these on-the-go snacks is either morning snacks (27%) or afternoon snacks (40%). Another interesting point is that eating with friends or coworkers is significantly more likely during on-the-go snacking (16% of all on-the-go snacking is eating with friends/coworkers). 
When we look across all eating and drinking occasions, we see that convenience is the number one need state. Consumers are looking for fast and portable solutions. More than one-quarter (29%) of all on-the-go snacking occasions involve a desire for something that is easy to eat on the go, and 18% of on-the-go snacking is about foods and beverages that can be consumed quickly. Close to one-third (30%) of on-the-go snacking occasions are immediate consumption, which is also a substantial overindex compared to total snacking. 
Interested in learning more about the primary drivers (emotional and functional) behind the on-the-go snacking occasion? Contact us
For a primer on Hartman’s Eating Occasions Compass, listen to our podcast: Compass
The Hartman Group’s Eating Occasions Compass has the who, what, when, where and why of more than 136,000 adult eatings and much more. Listen to Hartman’s Renee Wheeler and Gray Stanton as they provide the scoop on the inner workings of Compass.