With all of the changes and innovations North Americans have experienced over the past few decades, one that might get lost in the shuffle is the dramatic shift towards increased snacking.
It’s gotten to the point where articles are calling snacks “the most important meal of the day”. Before you roll your eyes at that claim, consider that in 2006, Purdue University’s Dr. Richard Mattes, professor of foods and nutrition, stated that the American diet had evolved to constitute a “fourth meal” averaging about 580 calories each day. That’s ~25% of average total calorie consumption and twice the average amount eaten at breakfast!
As for frequency, from 1978-2008, the average number of snacks a day per U.S. adult more than doubled from 1 to 2.2/day. So, is this change a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it depends!
Unfortunately, some studies have indicated that snack foods provide a higher percentage of “empty calories” (primarily calories from solid fats and added sugars) than typical meals. In general, though, the impact is extremely dependent on how individuals snack and what they snack on, as plenty of other studies have shown snacking can contribute to improved micronutrient and food group intake.
This brings us to the obvious point – fruits are among the healthiest snacks out there and boosting produce consumption through snacking is a worthwhile endeavor. And, that’s just what many consumers are doing, thanks in part to more products that are both healthy and convenient.
We’ve often referenced “baby” carrots as a clear example of this trend, but things have really ramped up more recently. In just the past month or two, numerous articles have been covering the rise of healthy, convenient snacks, saying things like:
- “Fruits and vegetables are the answer to Americans’ snack demands…Brands are finding innovative ways to make fruit and vegetable snacks even more convenient for consumers” (SmartBlog on Food & Beverage)
- “…..positive attitudes about snacking, desire to eat more healthfully, and need for convenience are among the reasons for the growth in snacks with a perceived health benefit.” (NPD Group)
Even so, there’s a long way to go, as Medical Daily recently reported that ~61% of American’s daily calories are from highly processed foods. And, 2014’s Global Survey of Snacking found that, while fresh fruit is the #2 snack in the world, it’s only ranked #5 in the United States. And, Produce For Better Health reports that overall produce consumption in the U.S. has declined over the past five years.
We’re here to help. Arctic® apples are ideally suited for freshcut applications and we plan to make sure that apples get into as many places as possible in irresistible convenient forms!