February is National Snack Month. (Don’t worry, I didn’t know that either until I started working on this article). Who knew that snacks needed their own month? Developed as a marketing and sales tool in 1989 by SNAC International, an industry resource group that “supports growth and relevance for the international snack industry,” National Snack Month was designed to ignite sales in a traditionally slow sales month. No biggie, right?
A lot has changed since 1989. Most notably, we have become a nation of snackaholics. The statistics are in and the news is this: snacking is more important than sitting down to three squares each day. (Take that, 1989!)
How do we know that? Food Navigator told us earlier this year that “growing numbers of young people see no problem in swapping three daily meals for six substantial snacks a day.” And the Hartman Group’s The Future of Snacking 2016 report quoted in SmartBrief found that 91% of consumers snack multiple times throughout the day and that “snacking now accounts for half (50%) of all eating occasions as America’s consumers say that snacking is essential to daily nutrition.” We spend over a billion US dollars a year on snacks and that number is expected to increase by $35 billion in the next five years. As a nation, the snack trend is pointing nearly straight up.
Some of these changes can be attributed to cultural shifts (we, as a nation, do not sit down to dinner together nearly as often as we used to) and some to the increased pressure on our time (with everyone working longer hours, who has time to cook anymore?).
Then there are the changes to the calendar. Along with Heart Health Month, Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and, more recently, the Super Bowl (until 2003, this game was held the last Sunday in January), February is now crammed with celebrations and snacking opportunities.
As a snack foods packaging agency, Perspective:Branding delights in these trends. They give us a reason to wake up every morning. But the trend begs a bigger question: do we still need National Snack Month?