Australia’s snacking habits revealed, Nielsen

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th November 2014
Australia’s snacking habits revealed, Nielsen
Australia’s snacking habits revealed, Nielsen

Eating between meals is extremely widespread with 96 per cent of Australians saying they regularly consume snack foods, according to new research from global market research organisation Nielsen.

Fruit beats chocolate as a snack, just

The Nielsen research showed that healthy habits prevailed by a slim margin, with 64 per cent of respondents saying they had consumed fresh fruit as a snack in the past 30 days – the most popular choice overall. However chocolate is a very close second with 62 per cent opting for a sweet treat, followed by cheese by just over half (54 per cent) of the Australians surveyed.

When asked about their first choice of snack, fresh fruit also came up trumps with almost one in five (19 per cent) choosing the healthy option, followed by chocolate (14 per cent) and a mid-meal sandwich coming third (9 per cent). The most popular reason for snacking is ‘to satisfy hunger between meals’ – as cited by 80 per cent of Australians who eat snack foods.

“The competition for ‘share of stomach’ is extremely fierce with a large range of snack options available,” said Kosta Conomos, Head of Nielsen’s Retail Industry Group. “It’s pleasing to see healthy choices come out on top, but only just, with the regular favourites of chocolate, biscuits and chips all ranking highly with at least half of Aussies who snack, choosing each of these options in the past month,” he said.

NZ beats Australia on pie as snack consumption

Similar habits were seen across the ditch, according to Nielsen, however, New Zealanders just won out on pie consumption, with 21 per cent of New Zealanders and 18 per cent of Australians having consumed a meat pie as a snack in the past month.

Where do consumers buy snacks?

Nielsen found that snacks were most often bought at the supermarket – 94 per cent compared to a convenience store, 47 per cent. Small, local neighborhood stores are frequented for snacks by 37 per cent of Australians, followed by vending machines by one-in five (21 per cent).

Mr Conomos explained that promotional activity is a cornerstone of the snack industry.

“Our research revealed that buying snacks on sale is important to Australian consumers with almost half (45 per cent) only buying snacks on sale – this emphasises the importance of precision in price and promotion activity for retailers and snack producing brands,” Mr Conomos said.

Brands important

The Nielsen research revealed that these Australian snack shoppers were also concerned with brand names. Almost half, (44 per cent) said that they prefer to buy brand name snacks.

Meal skipping and snacking habits

While skipping breakfast is often talked about, and evident among more than one-third (38 per cent) of Australians who snack, a whopping 46 per cent skipped lunch in favour of a snack in the past 30 days. Fewer Australians seem to miss dinner though, with 33 per cent turning to snacks instead of eating a proper night-time meal.

“What is concerning is the number of Australians who eat snacks as a meal replacement,” Mr Conomos said. “It shows the need for healthy snack offerings across the board that are easy and convenient to pick up on the run,” he said.

Favoured health claims

When looking at specific health claims, snack foods that contained ‘no artificial colours’ or ‘no artificial flavours’ were important to 63 per cent of Australians. Snacks that are ‘low in fat’ are important for 55 per cent of those who snack and ‘gluten free’ is favoured by 30 per cent.

When reviewing regional results across APAC the preference for organic snacks was lowest in Australia and New Zealand, with 46 per cent and 41 per cent respectively preferring organic snack foods compared with 84 per cent of consumers in China and 83 per cent in India. ‘All natural’ snacks were even more popular among consumers in China (88 per cent), the Philippines and Indonesia (86 per cent) compared with Australia (62 per cent) and New Zealand (56 per cent).

“Differences between consumers in this market and Asia are evident; this presents large implications for exporters looking to gain market share across the region,” Mr Conomos said. “I’d urge any local manufacturer looking to break into this market to undertake proper market studies first to ensure their food offerings are appealing to Asian consumers and meet their needs,” he said.