Mike Hornick, Staff Writer
Mike Hornick, Staff Writer

If you look more closely at the numbers, the same research that ranks fresh fruit as consumers’ top snack choice shows there’s plenty of room for improvement.

The NPD Group’s “Snacking in America” report said fresh fruit is eaten as a snack 55 times annually per person.

That’s great. But the remaining top 10 snacks are eaten a combined 209 times. Chocolate is a close second at 45; potato chips, 30.

The other seven are sugary or salty snacks of doubtful nutritional value. Yogurt is an exception on value, but I’m willing to tar it with the sugary brush too.

The numbers, of course, are cumulative. There’s no implication that I, personally, am eating four times as much junk as fresh fruit at snack time.

Or even more, if you consider the top 20 or 30 foods.

Naturally I would never admit to making sub-par eating choices. But together our itemized checkout receipts amount to a collective confession.

The study quantifies how snacks connect with consumers on many criteria, not just nutrition or flavor.

Peppered with words like craving and grazing — the latter is contrasted with snacking, which is more of a social occasion — it suggests the idiosyncrasies of consumer motivation.

Where does that leave marketers? Painting a picture of a new, healthier you? Or building somehow on established habit?

“It’s both,” said Kyla Garnett, Salinas, Calif.-based marketing manager for Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.

“It’s showing a new audience who may be used to grabbing that single-serve bag of chips for their afternoon snack that a clamshell of berries is equally as convenient, healthier and tastes better.”

“We always have had and forever will have a group focused on health,” she said.

“It’s reiterating their current views and introducing them to audiences that might not have thought about it before.”

Naturipe has long eyed the snack market and competition with foods elsewhere in the store or on the menu.

Examples include its Berry Quick snack packs and recent experience as a seasonal blueberry supplier of similarly sized packs to McDonald’s.

But the berry grower-shipper also sees competition for a share of snack purchases within fresh produce.

“We give consumers ideas on how they can take fruit on the go, to compete with other popular snacks like celery sticks or oranges that might be perceived as easier,” Garnett said.

“We’re working on that with our packaging.”


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