healthy snacking, a new standard

Healthy Snacking: all you need to know in 2019

The purpose of this conference was to scrutinise the notion of "Healthy Snacking" by way of three points of view and three different studies, to understand it better and figure out what underlies it.

Part one: contribution of Estelle Petit

Just what is healthy snacking?

According to Estelle Petit, from Nielsen, healthy snacking concerns: "two special moments in the day: the afternoon break and the aperitif." This market is worth €8 billion in France, or 7.6% of consumer spending in France, with 43% deriving from the grocery market.

This market consists of different types of snack product: biscuits, cereal bars, compotes, savoury products, etc. Despite its name, healthy snacking is clearly less a matter of eating things considered healthy, and more about the habit of snacking.

Cereal bars and compotes: natural is all the rage!
Cereal bars

Cereal bars and compotes are the healthiest snacks.

One of the main conclusions is that cereal bars and pouches of compote are the healthiest snack products. In 2018, consumption of these snacks increased by 3%, especially for natural cereal bars and prepared fruits, and there was increased demand for compotes.

All this is thanks to progress: organic, sugar-free, additive-free are all highly sought after by consumers. Generally, the market is impacted by people wanting more natural products.

Appetisers for aperitif: healthy or not?

The world of healthy appetisers is a €4 billion market in France, thus accounting for half of all snacks. The market for savoury products is divided into four categories: savoury fruits & nuts, crisps, crackers and puffs.

Health & innovation: the survey

In answer to the question: "What products would you like to find in stores?", respondents answer: "Natural ones". These statements are to be treated circumspectly, since everyone has their own vision of what "natural" means: additive-free, transparency on the labels, return to fresh foods, etc.

To meet this demand, organic products are multiplying on the shelves. Accounting for €4 billion in sales, organic's strong growth of over 23% still only represents 3.7% of all purchases made by French consumers.

Pascale Hebel – Healthy Snacking: the new standard?

Snacking: generally misunderstood?

"In terms of cultural appropriation in France, the word 'snacking' comes from the world of marketing, something the population is rather allergic to."

This is reinforced by our model of consumption, based on eating three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, according to the study conducted by CREDOC, all French people, of all ages, like to take an aperitif and/or an afternoon snack daily.

Generational or traditional food habits?

The fact is that the afternoon snack is a trend which is likely to become a habit with the younger generation. Nearly 48% of the youngest citizens say they have a snack between lunch and dinner, fitting it in and structuring it like an actual meal.

From a sociological point of view, snacking is characterized by eating without cutlery and/or eating while standing up. As well as issuing a questionnaire, the company provided a booklet for respondents to log their consumption over nine months. In this booklet, the volunteers noted their daily intake of liquid or solid food. For snacks as a whole: 31% are liquids and solids taken at the same time, as against 18% of solid food only. Hot drinks, such as coffee or tea, are therefore widespread snacking beverages. In this regard, France is one of the European countries where water consumption exceeds the consumption of sugary drinks.

Nathalie Hutter-Lardeau: Can we associate snacking with nutrition?

Snacking and nutrition: a contradiction in terms?

One thing is sure: the word "snacking" is too negative in the French language to be used by French consumers, and the French language has its own words for this, for easier comprehension.


Snacking: taking small amounts of food on a regular basis. 

Yet "snacking" - free of any negative connotations in English - will nonetheless vary depending on our individual food habits and the reasons why we do it. This is why, rather than associating it with categories of foods, snacking should simply be considered as consuming small quantities of foods recurrently throughout the day.

A study has demonstrated the negative impact of snacking on health. In American homes where they live with the "fridge open" (consuming food on average 10 times a day) the body cannot understand, and it stores fat without triggering the sensation of being full. Conversely, eating just twice a day is insufficient, and the body will store fats here, too, provoking a false sensation of fullness and negative effects such as a deficiency of nutrients, sugar or trace elements.

The question of nutrition

Energy intake is central to the question. Imbalanced or unstructured intake is responsible for obesity and dietary deficiencies. As Nathalie Hutter-Lardeau explains: "The impact of this snacking on our energy intake will be exponential when we choose products with an extremely high energy density compared to fruits".

Ultimately, the recommendation for healthy snacking is to take a snack once a day, rather than snacking on several occasions throughout the day, and fruit combined with cereals will give you that full feeling more quickly, while avoiding certain addictions.

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