DEERFIELD, ILL. — The average adult eats more snacks than meals on a given day, according to the first-ever State of Snacking report from Mondelez International, Inc. and The Harris Poll. Around the world, consumers are choosing small bites over meals to fuel modern lifestyles, cultural connection and functional and emotional well-being.

The research draws from the results of an online survey of 6,068 adults across 12 markets throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia from Sept. 16-27.

“As the snacking market continues to grow globally, we’re living our purpose to empower people to snack right by constantly learning about the many different ways consumers around the world are snacking and evolving their relationship with food,” said Dirk Van de Put, chairman and chief executive officer of Mondelez International. “We embrace the fact that snacking habits around the world are as diverse as the consumers who enjoy them. However people snack, they should not have to choose between snacking and eating right, or to worry about the impact their choices have on the world and their communities. That’s why we’re committed to empowering people to snack right.”

A growing need for convenience and expanded well-being preferences are among factors supporting the $1.2 trillion snacking market worldwide. Fifty-nine per cent of adults worldwide said they prefer to eat many small bites throughout the day rather than a few larger meals. The figure skews higher among millennial consumers.

Indulgence plays a role in daily snacking routines. Seventy per cent of adults surveyed said snacks are as important to emotional well-being as physical well-being, and 76% view snacking as a mood booster.

Mondelez snacking infographic

“Among millennials, 8 in 10 use their snacking moments as an opportunity to slow down and find moments of quieter, mindful reflection,” Mr. Van de Put said. “And as our sense of well-being evolves, 77% of us agree there is a time and a place for healthy and indulgent snacks alike.”

Snacks also are seen as a source of nostalgia, identity and connection. Seventy per cent of participants in the survey said snack preferences are passed down through generations in their families.

“As our collective sense of boundaries blur and the idea of ‘home’ evolves, food is becoming our universal language,” said Brigette Wolf, senior director and head of innovation for the SnackFutures platform at Mondelez International. “Snacking offers bite-sized moments to share tradition, connect with our sense of self, community and family. And for younger generations snacking addresses our wanderlust by allowing within-reach experiences of cultures other than our own.”

Snacking also helps consumers control portions and manage hunger throughout the day, according to research findings. Two-thirds of adults said they look at nutrition information before buying snacks. The top qualities consumers seek in snacks are freshness (43%), low sugar (36%) and low fat (31%). Functional ingredients and personalized nutrition are attributes consumers said they want to see in more snacks in the future.

“Well-being is evolving to be more holistic and in line with people’s lifestyles and values,” said Christine Montenegro McGrath, vice-president and chief of sustainability and well-being at Mondelez International. “As the world’s largest snack company, we’re committed to transforming our portfolio to meet evolving well-being needs — removing what people don’t want, adding more of what they do, expanding our offerings and inspiring to snack mindfully. We’re focused on redesigning the experience of snacking, to help our consumers get what they need from the snacks and brands they love.”

Over the past year, Mondelez International has focused on broadening its product portfolio to offer more options and inspire mindful snacking habits. The company’s stable of brands includes Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies, Ritz and Triscuit crackers, belVita breakfast biscuits, Cadbury chocolate, Trident gum and Sour Patch Kids candy. Mondelez launched the SnackFutures platform a year ago to develop new brands and acquire or invest in start-ups to enhance its assortment. A recent example is CaPao, a plant-based snack brand created to repurpose the often-discarded parts of the cacaofruit. The snacks contain nuts, seeds, spices and herbs and were developed in partnership with Barry Callebaut.