Frito-Lay Just Shed Some Light On How We Choose Snacks

Are you a fan of the sweet or the salty? Do you like something that offers a wallop of spice or some savory cheese flavor? Maybe you're a fan of both. Are you more apt to reach for pork rinds and potato chips or chocolate bars and chewy candy?

There's a lot to choose from in the snack section of grocery and convenience stores these days. According to Statista, the U.S. is the number one market in the world for snack foods. It's a market that is expected to reach $32.7 billion by 2026, and roughly half of Americans feel that snacks are a viable and appropriate replacement to full meals.

Frito-Lay is no stranger to the snack game. The company, founded as two separate companies in the early 1930's who then merged in 1961 (per the company's website), is the largest seller of savory snacks in the nation, as reported by Thomas. As such, they're intimately interested in what makes the mind of the snacking consumer tick and what elements drive sales. The company recently released their summer trend index for 2022, and it contains some interesting insights into what the average consumer considers when reaching for a snack.

Frito's finds

The headline highlight is not how cheesy, spicy, or sweet we want our snacks to be, but how concerned we are with the behavior of the company selling them, notes the press release. Some of the top drivers of choice are sustainability practices in production and packaging, commitment to improving community food access, and how employees are treated. These issues are most important to younger demographics, age 18-34.

Regardless of age, though, integrity of flavor and opportunity to explore new flavors remains the main motivator in snack choice, with 35% of consumers noting innovative flavor options help sway their decision over things like packaging, recommendations, or brand recognition. That makes sense to Frito-Lay's chief customer officer Mike Del Pozzo, who explains that summer is the season for trying all kinds of new things, snack flavors included.

The trove of data from Frito-Lay contains many more interesting nuggets about our snacking habits. For example, people across the board love to snack with friends and family, but Gen Z and Millennial snackers are more likely to munch alone. Also, when prioritizing salty and sweet flavor combinations and texture, our proclivity for a tasty bite over mouthfeel wins out.