10/9/2015 12:26 PM
American dining is evolving as more people are trading in three square meals for snacking throughout the day. Today’s consumers are using snacks - small portions of food and drink consumed outside of the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner timeframes - as their meals, which present countless opportunities for foodservice providers.
Customers want convenience around the clock to be able to eat pretty much, whatever they want, whenever they want. By trading in traditional meals for snacking all day long, Americans are consuming nearly one-quarter of their daily calories solely from snacks, or what we like to call “mini-meals” or “dayparts.”
Gradually, the designations of breakfast, lunch and dinner have faded into a 24-hour culture with altered eating habits and an increase in cravings (source: http://www.qsrmagazine.com/ingredients-dayparts/fourth-and-fifth-dayparts). According to the NPD Group, “snacking is holding its own as the traditional three dayparts falter, a sign that the snacking trend is here to stay and has room for growth” (source: http://www.qsrmagazine.com/ingredients-dayparts/fourth-and-fifth-dayparts). Mini-meals or dayparts offered throughout the day provide unique opportunities for foodservice directors to incorporate creative approaches to combination products, meals and/or ingredients. For instance, foodservice establishments, like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell and others, have extended their hours, changed their menus and even invented new products in an attempt to attract customers during nontraditional dayparts.
Consumers also want to stick with the basics. Fewer ingredients are more important than the addition of them. Consumers are demanding more non-sugary snacks, which signal a shift in the consumer mindset that is focused on health. Of course, consumers still like to indulge occasionally when selecting a snack, but health is becoming increasingly important. As a foodservice provider, offer mini-meals or dayparts based on flavors, textures, eye appeal and healthier options. You could also offer special deals that allow customers to add on a beverage as part of the mini-meal or daypart.
With snack sales totaling $374 billion annually ending March 2014, snacks as meal replacements are proving to be a growing opportunity for foodservice providers. It’s important to provide ample mini-meal options for your consumers based on snacking trends. Plus, mini-meals and dayparts are a great way for foodservice providers to generate revenue outside of their normal operating times, and is a way to engage the tastebuds.
Slightly more than two in five (44%) consumers eat at least one snack while on the go, which means packaging is important. Foodservice providers can ensure that mini-meals and dayparts are conveniently packaged for grab-and-go eating. Individual portion sizes are also consistently popular. For instance, the most popular away-from-home snack is cereal/snack bars. Providing individualized mini-meal and daypart packages is key to your foodservice operation.
Ultimately, adding a “mini-meal” or “daypart” will have an impact on your operation's core concept and brand identity as well as operations and logistics. Ensure that the impact of adding a daypart is perceived as a value-add to your customers. Engagement with their needs, wants and tastebuds is vital to generating revenue or capturing revenue you otherwise would not have had in your off meal times or between normal meal times.